Nutrient availability and organic matter quality shape bacterial community structure in a lake biofilm


Heterotrophic bacteria play a key role in ecosystem processes, but little is known about the factors that shape bacterial community structure in aquatic biofilms, especially in lakes. We used molecular techniques (16S rRNA) to evaluate resource controls on biofilm bacterial community structure in an oligotrophic subalpine lake. We manipulated nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus; NP) and glucose (G) on inorganic (rock) and organic (wood) substrates under light and dark conditions (i.e. with and without autotrophy, respectively) in a full factorial design using nutrient diffusing substrates in situ for 20 d. Distinct patterns of separation in community structure between treatments with nutrients (NP, NP+G) and without nutrients (control, G-only) indicated that community structure was more strongly influenced by nutrients than organic matter irrespective of substrate type or light availability. Further separation in community structure between treatments with nutrients only (NP) and nutrients with glucose (NP+G) on both organic and inorganic substrates indicated that once nutrient limitation was alleviated, organic matter quality played an important role in shaping community structure. Differences in the relative abundance of 6 phyla, 3 classes, and 19 genera among treatments revealed (1) contrasting taxa-specific re - source requirements, (2) the influence of interspecific interactions on composition, and (3) the potential for individual taxa to participate in the decomposition of recalcitrant organic matter. Our findings provide insight into the role that nutrients and organic matter quality play in shaping bacterial community structure, which is a critical step in bridging the knowledge gap between microbial composition and ecosystem function within aquatic environments.

Publication Title

Aquatic Microbial Ecology