Taxonomic composition of the particle-attached and free-living bacterial assemblages in the Northwest Mediterranean Sea analyzed by pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA



Bibiana G. Crespo, Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +34 93 2309500; Fax: +34 93 2309555; E-mail:


Free-living (FL) and particle-attached (PA) bacterial assemblages in the Northwest Mediterranean Sea were studied using pyrosequencing data of the 16S rRNA. We have described and compared the richness, the distribution of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) within the two fractions, the spatial distribution, and the taxonomic composition of FL and PA bacterial assemblages. The number of OTUs in the present work was two orders of magnitude higher than in previous studies. Only 25% of the total OTUs were common to both fractions, whereas 49% OTUs were exclusive to the PA fraction and 26% to the FL fraction. The OTUs exclusively present in PA or FL assemblages were very low in abundance (6% of total abundance). Detection of the rare OTUs revealed the larger richness of PA bacteria that was hidden in previous studies. Alpha-Proteobacteria dominated the FL bacterial assemblage and gamma-Proteobacteria dominated the PA fraction. Bacteroidetes were important in the PA fraction mainly at the coast. The high number of sequences in this study detected additional phyla from the PA fraction, such as Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Verrucomicrobia.