A Dissolved Oxygen Threshold for Shifts in Bacterial Community Structure in a Seasonally Hypoxic EstuaryReport as inadecuate

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Pelagic ecosystems can become depleted of dissolved oxygen as a result of both natural processes and anthropogenic effects. As dissolved oxygen concentration decreases, energy shifts from macrofauna to microorganisms, which persist in these hypoxic zones. Oxygen-limited regions are rapidly expanding globally; however, patterns of microbial communities associated with dissolved oxygen gradients are not yet well understood. To assess the effects of decreasing dissolved oxygen on bacteria, we examined shifts in bacterial community structure over space and time in Hood Canal, Washington, USA−a glacial fjord-like water body that experiences seasonal low dissolved oxygen levels known to be detrimental to fish and other marine organisms. We found a strong negative association between bacterial richness and dissolved oxygen. Bacterial community composition across all samples was also strongly associated with the dissolved oxygen gradient, and significant changes in bacterial community composition occurred at a dissolved oxygen concentration between 5.18 and 7.12 mg O2 L-1. This threshold value of dissolved oxygen is higher than classic definitions of hypoxia <2.0 mg O2 L-1, suggesting that changes in bacterial communities may precede the detrimental effects on ecologically and economically important macrofauna. Furthermore, bacterial taxa responsible for driving whole community changes across the oxygen gradient are commonly detected in other oxygen-stressed ecosystems, suggesting that the patterns we uncovered in Hood Canal may be relevant in other low oxygen ecosystems.

Author: Rachel L. Spietz , Cheryl M. Williams, Gabrielle Rocap, M. Claire Horner-Devine

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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