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Summary

The phylogenetic composition of freshwater anoxygenic photoheterotrophs (APs) has been poorly investigated as compared with their marine counterparts. In this study, we explored a set of ultraoligotrophic cold high mountain lakes (Central Pyrenees, Spain) by both pufM gene denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting, and cloning and sequencing of selected lakes samples. Different ranges of limnological and physico-chemical values were explored as environmental drivers of APs richness and composition. We did not observe significant relationships between richness/diversity of pufM and any of the limnological characteristics measured or trophic status, but a negative correlation with ammonia concentration. Conductivity, pH and nitrate concentration were significantly related to changes in APs community composition, whereas lake area, altitude, temperature and trophic status did not. Most of the sequences (> 85%) had the pufM sequences of Limnohabitans (Betaproteobacteria) as the closest relative in databases, whereas less abundant clones were more closely related to Rhodobacter, Sulfitobacter and Brevundimonas (Alphaproteobacteria), in agreement with 16S rRNA gene sequences previously found in the area. Congregibacter-like Gammaproteobacteria were not detected. Comparison with available studies in inland waters showed taxonomic partitioning along salinity gradients, and Congregibacter-like sequences restricted to high saline conditions in continental water bodies.