Quantitative environmental distribution of two widely distributed uncultured freshwater Euryarchaeota with unknown functional role was explored by newly designed quantitative PCR primers targeting the 16S rRNA gene of clades Miscellaneous Euryarchaeota Group (MEG, containing the groups pMC2A384 and VALII/Eury4) and Deep-Sea Euryarchaeotal Groups (DSEG, targeting the cluster named VALIII containing the DHVE-3/DSEG, BC07-2A-27/DSEG-3 and DSEG-2 groups), respectively. The summer surface plankton of 28 lakes was analysed, and one additional dimictic deep alpine lake, Lake Redon, was temporally and vertically surveyed covering seasonal limnological variability. A trophic range between 0.2 and 5.2 μg l−1 Chl a, and pH span from 3.8 to 9.5 was explored at altitudes between 632 and 2590 m above sea level. The primers showed to be highly selective with c. 85% coverage and 100% specificity. Only pH significantly explained the changes observed in gene abundances and environment. In Lake Redon, DSEG bloomed in deep stratified waters both in summer and early spring, and MEG at intermediate depths during the ice-cover period. Overall, MEG and DSEG showed a differential ecological distribution although correlational analyses indicated lack of coupling of both Euryarchaeota with phytoplankton (chlorophyll a). However, an intriguing positive and significant relationship was found between DSEG and putative ammonia oxidizing thaumarchaeota.
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