Summer microbial community composition governed by upper-ocean stratification and nutrient availability in northern Marguerite Bay, Antarctica
The Western Antarctic Peninsula warmed significantly during the second half of the twentieth century, with a concurrent retreat of the majority of its glaciers, and marked changes in the sea-ice field. These changes may affect summertime upper-ocean stratification, and thereby the seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton and bacteria. In the present study, we examined coastal Antarctic microbial community dynamics by pigment analysis and applying molecular tools, and analysed various environmental parameters to identify the most important environmental drivers. Sampling focussed on the austral summer of 2009–2010 at the Rothera oceanographic and biological Time Series (RaTS) site in northern Marguerite bay, Antarctica.The Antarctic summer was characterized by a salinity decrease (measured at 15 m depth) coinciding with increased meteoric water fraction. Maximum Chl-a values of 35 µg l-1 were observed during midsummer and mainly comprised of diatoms. Microbial community fingerprinting revealed four distinct periods in phytoplankton succession during the summer while bacteria showed a delayed response to the phytoplankton community. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analyses showed that phytoplankton community dynamics were mainly directed by temperature, mixed layer depth and wind speed. Both high and low N/P ratios might have influenced phytoplankton biomass accumulation. The bacterioplankton community composition was mainly governed by Chl-a, suggesting a link to phytoplankton community changes. High-throughput 16 S and 18 S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed stable eukaryotic and bacterial communities with regards to observed species, yet varying temporal relative contributions. Eukaryotic sequences were dominated by pennate diatoms in December followed by polar centric diatoms in January and February. Our results imply that the reduction of mixed layer depth during summer, caused by meltwater-related surface stratification, promotes a succession in diatoms rather than in nanophytoflagellates in northern Marguerite Bay, which may favour higher trophic levels.
Authors: Rozema, Patrick D., Biggs, Tristan, Sprong, Pim A.A., Buma, Anita G.J., Venables, Hugh J., Evans, Claire, Meredith, Michael P., Bolhuis, Henk