Abundance and genetic diversity of aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria of coastal regions of the pacific ocean.
Aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic (AAP) bacteria are photoheterotrophic microbes that are found in a broad range of aquatic environments. Although potentially significant to the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems, their abundance and genetic diversity and the environmental variables that regulate these properties are poorly understood. Using samples along nearshore/offshore transects from five disparate islands in the Pacific Ocean (Oahu, Molokai, Futuna, Aniwa, and Lord Howe) and off California, we show that AAP bacteria, as quantified by the pufM gene biomarker, are most abundant near shore and in areas with high chlorophyll or Synechococcus abundance. These AAP bacterial populations are genetically diverse, with most members belonging to the alpha- or gammaproteobacterial groups and with subclades that are associated with specific environmental variables. The genetic diversity of AAP bacteria is structured along the nearshore/offshore transects in relation to environmental variables, and uncultured pufM gene libraries suggest that nearshore communities are distinct from those offshore. AAP bacterial communities are also genetically distinct between islands, such that the stations that are most distantly separated are the most genetically distinct. Together, these results demonstrate that environmental variables regulate both the abundance and diversity of AAP bacteria but that endemism may also be a contributing factor in structuring these communities.
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