Synchrony of Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Planktonic Communities in Three Seasonally Sampled Austrian Lakes

Freshwater systems are characterized by an enormous diversity of eukaryotic protists and prokaryotic taxa. The community structures in different lakes are thereby influenced by factors such as habitat size, lake chemistry, biotic interactions, and seasonality. In our study, we used high throughput 454 sequencing to study the diversity and temporal changes of prokaryotic and eukaryotic planktonic communities in three Austrian lakes during the ice-free season. In the following year, one lake was sampled again with a reduced set of sampling dates to observe reoccurring patterns. Cluster analyses (based on SSU V9 (eukaryotic) and V4 (prokaryotic) OTU composition) grouped samples according to their origin followed by separation into seasonal clusters, indicating that each lake has a unique signature based on OTU composition. These results suggest a strong habitat-specificity of microbial communities and in particular of community patterns at the OTU level. A comparison of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic datasets via co-inertia analysis (CIA) showed a consistent clustering of prokaryotic and eukaryotic samples, probably reacting to the same environmental forces (e.g., pH, conductivity). In addition, the shifts in eukaryotic and bacterioplanktonic communities generally occurred at the same time and on the same scale. Regression analyses revealed a linear relationship between an increase in Bray–Curtis dissimilarities and elapsed time. Our study shows a pronounced coupling between bacteria and eukaryotes in seasonal samplings of the three analyzed lakes. However, our temporal resolution (biweekly sampling) and data on abiotic factors were insufficient to determine if this was caused by direct biotic interactions or by reacting to the same seasonally changing environmental forces.


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