Bacterial and Phytoplankton Responses to Nutrient Amendments in a Boreal Lake Differ According to Season and to Taxonomic Resolution

Peura S, Eiler A, Hiltunen M, Nykänen H, Tiirola M, Jones RI

PLoS ONE 7 (6) e38552 [2012-06-08; online 2012-06-08]

Nutrient limitation and resource competition in bacterial and phytoplankton communities may appear different when considering different levels of taxonomic resolution. Nutrient amendment experiments conducted in a boreal lake on three occasions during one open water season revealed complex responses in overall bacterioplankton and phytoplankton abundance and biovolume. In general, bacteria were dominant in spring, while phytoplankton was clearly the predominant group in autumn. Seasonal differences in the community composition of bacteria and phytoplankton were mainly related to changes in observed taxa, while the differences across nutrient treatments within an experiment were due to changes in relative contributions of certain higher- and lower-level phylogenetic groups. Of the main bacterioplankton phyla, only Actinobacteria had a treatment response that was visible even at the phylum level throughout the season. With increasing resolution (from 75 to 99% sequence similarity) major responses to nutrient amendments appeared using 454 pyrosequencing data of 16S rRNA amplicons. This further revealed that OTUs (defined by 97% sequence similarity) annotated to the same highly resolved freshwater groups appeared to occur during different seasons and were showing treatment-dependent differentiation, indicating that OTUs within these groups were not ecologically coherent. Similarly, phytoplankton species from the same genera responded differently to nutrient amendments even though biovolumes of the majority of taxa increased when both nitrogen and phosphorus were added simultaneously. The bacterioplankton and phytoplankton community compositions showed concurrent trajectories that could be seen in synchronous succession patterns over the season. Overall, our data revealed that the response of both communities to nutrient changes was highly dependent on season and that contradictory results may be obtained when using different taxonomic resolutions.

Sari Peura

SciLifeLab Fellow

PubMed 22715392

DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0038552

Crossref 10.1371/journal.pone.0038552

Publications 9.5.0