- Coastal microbial mat diversity along a natural salinity gradient
- PLoS One
- Volume | Issue number
- 8 | 5
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
The North Sea coast of the Dutch barrier island of Schiermonnikoog is covered by microbial mats that initiate a succession of plant communities that eventually results in the development of a densely vegetated salt marsh. The North Sea beach has a natural elevation running from the low water mark to the dunes resulting in gradients of environmental factors perpendicular to the beach. These gradients are due to the input of seawater at the low water mark and of freshwater from upwelling groundwater at the dunes and rainfall. The result is a natural and dynamic salinity gradient depending on the tide, rainfall and wind. We studied the microbial community composition in thirty three samples taken every ten meters along this natural salinity gradient by using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of rRNA gene fragments. We looked at representatives from each Domain of life (Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya) and with a particular emphasis on Cyanobacteria. Analysis of the DGGE fingerprints together with pigment composition revealed three distinct microbial mat communities, a marine community dominated by diatoms as primary producers, an intermediate brackish community dominated by Cyanobacteria as primary producers and a freshwater community with Cyanobacteria and freshwater green algae.
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