Significant changes in the bacterioplankton community structure of a maritime Antarctic freshwater lake following nutrient enrichment
Nutrient enrichment is known to increase bacterioplankton population density in a variety of Antarctic freshwater lakes. However, relatively little is known about the associated changes in species composition. In this study, the bacterioplankton community composition of one such lake was studied following natural nutrient enrichment to investigate the resistance of the system to environmental change. Heywood Lake is an enriched freshwater maritime Antarctic lake, with nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations significantly higher than its more oligotrophic neighbours (by at least an order of magnitude). This major change in lake chemistry has occurred following large increases in the fur seal population over the last 30 years. Using analysis of 16S rRNA gene fragments, fatty acid methyl ester analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and fluorescence in situ hybridization, significant changes are reported in lake microbiology which have resulted in a distinct bacterioplankton community. In comparison to its more oligotrophic neighbours, nutrient-enriched Heywood Lake has a high bacterioplankton population density, reduced species richness and an increasing evenness among key groups. Only 42·3 % of the clones found with 97 % similarity to a named genus were also present in adjacent oligotrophic lakes, including three of the dominant groups. Critically, there was an apparent shift in dominance with trophic status (from the -Proteobacteria to the Actinobacteria). Other key observations included the absence of a dominant group of Cyanobacteria and the presence of marine bacteria. The significant impact of natural nutrient enrichment on the microbiology of Heywood Lake, therefore, suggests that low-temperature oligotrophic freshwater lake systems might have low resistance to environmental change.
Authors: Pearce, David A., Van Der Gast, Christopher J., Woodward, Kelly, Newsham, Kevin K.