Marine organisms in intertidal zones are subjected to periodical fluctuations and wave activities. To understand how microbes in intertidal biofilms adapt to the stresses, the microbial metagenomes of biofilms from intertidal and subtidal zones were compared. The genes responsible for resistance to metal ion and oxidative stresses were enriched in both 6-day and 12-day intertidal biofilms, including genes associated with secondary metabolism, inorganic ion transport and metabolism, signal transduction and extracellular polymeric substance metabolism. In addition, these genes were more enriched in 12-day than 6-day intertidal biofilms. We hypothesize that a complex signaling network is used for stress tolerance and propose a model illustrating the relationships between these functions and environmental metal ion concentrations and oxidative stresses. These findings show that bacteria use diverse mechanisms to adapt to intertidal zones and indicate that the community structures of intertidal biofilms are modulated by metal ion and oxidative stresses.
Tian, Ren-Mao; Lee, On On; Wang, Yong; Cai, Lin; Bougouffa, Salim; Chiu, Jill Man Ying; Wu, Rudolf Shiu Sun; Qian, Pei-Yuan(Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media SA, 2014-01-01)[Article]
Marine sponges play important roles in benthic environments and are sensitive to environmental stresses. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been widely used as flame retardants since the 1970s and are cytotoxic and genotoxic to organisms. In the present study, we studied the short-period effect of PBDE-47 (2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether) treatment on the community structure and functional gene composition of the bacterial community inhabiting the marine sponge Haliclona cymaeformis. Our results showed that the bacterial community shifted from an autotrophic bacteria-dominated community to a heterotrophic bacteria-dominated community in response to PBDE-47 in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. A potentially symbiotic sulfur-oxidizing bacterium (SOB) was dominant (>80% in abundance) in the untreated sponge. However, exposure to a high concentration (1 μg/L) of PBDE-47 caused a substantial decrease in the potential symbiont and an enrichment of heterotrophic bacteria like Clostridium. A metagenomic analysis showed a selective effect of the high concentration treatment on the functional gene composition of the enriched heterotrophic bacteria, revealing an enrichment for the functions responsible for DNA repair, multidrug efflux pumping, and bacterial chemotaxis and motility. This study demonstrated that PBDE-47 induced a shift in the composition of the community and functional genes in the sponge-associated bacterial community, revealing the selective effect of PBDE-47 treatment on the functions of the bacterial community in the microenvironment of the sponge.
Zhang, Weipeng; Bougouffa, Salim; Wang, Yong; Lee, On On; Yang, Jiangke; Chan, Colin; Song, Xingyu; Qian, Pei-Yuan(PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2014-04-14)[Article]
Community assembly theories such as species sorting theory provide a framework for understanding the structures and dynamics of local communities. The effect of theoretical mechanisms can vary with the scales of observation and effects of specific environmental factors. Based on 16S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing, different structures and temporal succession patterns were discovered between the surface sediments and bottom water microbial communities in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE). The microbial communities in the surface sediment samples were more diverse than those in the bottom water samples, and several genera were specific for the water or sediment communities. Moreover, water temperature was identified as the main variable driving community dynamics and the microbial communities in the sediment showed a greater temporal change. We speculate that nutrient-based species sorting and bacterial plasticity to the temperature contribute to the variations observed between sediment and water communities in the PRE. This study provides a more comprehensive understanding of the microbial community structures in a highly dynamic estuarine system and sheds light on the applicability of ecological theoretical mechanisms.
Cao, Huiluo; Zhang, Weipeng; Wang, Yong; Qian, Pei-Yuan(Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media SA, 2015-07-21)[Article]
The active seepage of the marine cold seeps could be a critical process for the exchange of energy between the submerged geosphere and the sea floor environment through organic-rich fluids, potentially even affecting surrounding microbial habitats. However, few studies have investigated the associated microbial community changes. In the present study, 16S rRNA genes were pyrosequenced to decipher changes in the microbial communities from the Thuwal seepage point in the Red Sea to nearby marine sediments in the brine pool, normal marine sediments and water, and benthic microbial mats. An unexpected number of reads from unclassified groups were detected in these habitats; however, the ecological functions of these groups remain unresolved. Furthermore, ammonia-oxidizing archaeal community structures were investigated using the ammonia monooxygenase subunit A (amoA) gene. Analysis of amoA showed that planktonic marine habitats, including seeps and marine water, hosted archaeal ammonia oxidizers that differed from those in microbial mats and marine sediments, suggesting modifications of the ammonia oxidizing archaeal (AOA) communities along the environmental gradient from active seepage sites to peripheral areas. Changes in the microbial community structure of AOA in different habitats (water vs. sediment) potentially correlated with changes in salinity and oxygen concentrations. Overall, the present results revealed for the first time unanticipated novel microbial groups and changes in the ammonia-oxidizing archaea in response to environmental gradients near the active seepages of a cold seep.
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