Stream microbial diversity in response to environmental changes: review and synthesis of existing research

TitleStream microbial diversity in response to environmental changes: review and synthesis of existing research
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsZeglin, LH
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Start Page454
Date PublishedJun-05-2015
Accession NumberKNZ001702
Keywordsecosystem structure and function, lotic ecosystems, microbial diversity, rivers, streams

The importance of microbial activity to ecosystem function in aquatic ecosystems is well established, but microbial diversity has been less frequently addressed. This review and synthesis of 100s of published studies on stream microbial diversity shows that factors known to drive ecosystem processes, such as nutrient availability, hydrology, metal contamination, contrasting land-use and temperature, also cause heterogeneity in bacterial diversity. Temporal heterogeneity in stream bacterial diversity was frequently observed, reflecting the dynamic nature of both stream ecosystems and microbial community composition. However, within-stream spatial differences in stream bacterial diversity were more commonly observed, driven specifically by different organic matter (OM) compartments. Bacterial phyla showed similar patterns in relative abundance with regard to compartment type across different streams. For example, surface water contained the highest relative abundance of Actinobacteria, while epilithon contained the highest relative abundance of Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes. This suggests that contrasting physical and/or nutritional habitats characterized by different stream OM compartment types may select for certain bacterial lineages. When comparing the prevalence of physicochemical effects on stream bacterial diversity, effects of changing metal concentrations were most, while effects of differences in nutrient concentrations were least frequently observed. This may indicate that although changing nutrient concentrations do tend to affect microbial diversity, other environmental factors are more likely to alter stream microbial diversity and function. The common observation of connections between ecosystem process drivers and microbial diversity suggests that microbial taxonomic turnover could mediate ecosystem-scale responses to changing environmental conditions, including both microbial habitat distribution and physicochemical factors.

Short TitleFront. Microbiol.