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Linkages between bacterioplankton community composition, heterotrophic carbon cycling and environmental conditions in a highly dynamic coastal ecosystem


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We used mesocosm experiments to study the bacterioplankton community in a highly dynamic coastal ecosystem during four contrasting periods of the seasonal cycle: winter mixing, spring phytoplankton bloom, summer stratification and autumn upwelling. A correlation approach was used in order to measure the degree of coupling between the dynamics of major bacterial groups, heterotrophic carbon cycling and environmental factors. We used catalysed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization to follow changes in the relative abundance of the most abundant groups of bacteria (Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes). Bacterial carbon flux-related variables included bacterial standing stock, bacterial production and microbial respiration. The environmental factors included both, biotic variables such as chlorophyll-a concentration, primary production, phytoplankton extracellular release, and abiotic variables such as the concentration of dissolved inorganic and organic nutrients. Rapid shifts in the dominant bacterial groups occurred associated to environmental changes and bacterial bulk functions. An alternation between Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes was observed associated to different phytoplankton growth phases. The dominance of the group Bacteroidetes was related to high bacterial biomass and production. We found a significant, non-spurious, linkage between the relative abundances of major bacterial groups and bacterial carbon cycling. Our results suggest that bacteria belonging to these major groups could actually share a function in planktonic ecosystems.