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Keywords:

  • Lake Michigan;
  • Betaproteobacteria;
  • freshwater;
  • bacterial community composition

Abstract

The spatial and temporal variability of bacterial communities were determined for the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan, an oligotrophic freshwater inland sea. A freshwater estuary and nearshore sites were compared six times during 2006 using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Bacterial composition clustered by individual site and date rather than by depth. Seven 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed, yielding 2717 bacterial sequences. Spatial variability was detected among the DGGE banding patterns and supported by clone library composition. The clone libraries from deep waters and the estuary environment revealed highest overall bacterial diversity. Betaproteobacteria sequence types were the most dominant taxa, comprising 40.2–67.7% of the clone libraries. BAL 47 was the most abundant freshwater cluster of Betaproteobacteria, indicating widespread distribution of this cluster in the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan. Incertae sedis 5 and Oxalobacteraceae sequence types were prevalent in each clone library, displaying more diversity than previously described in other freshwater environments. Among the Oxalobacteraceae sequences, a globally distributed freshwater cluster was determined. The nearshore waters of Lake Michigan are a dynamic environment that experience forces similar to the coastal ocean environment and share common bacterial diversity with other freshwater habitats.