Persistent Core Populations Shape the Microbiome Throughout the Water Column in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.


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Marine microbial communities are responsible for many important ecosystem processes in the oceans. Their variability across time and depths is well recognized, but mostly at a coarse-grained taxonomic resolution. To gain a deeper perspective on ecological patterns of bacterioplankton diversity in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, we characterized bacterioplankton communities throughout the water column at a fine-grained taxonomic level with a focus on temporally persistent (core) populations. Considerable intra-clade microdiversity was evident in virtually every microbial clade examined. While some of the most abundant populations comprised only a small fraction of the intra-clade microdiversity, they formed a temporally persistent core within a more diverse array of less abundant ephemeral populations. The depth-stratified population structure within many phylogenetically disparate clades suggested that ecotypic variation was the rule among most planktonic bacterial and archaeal lineages. Our results suggested that the abundant, persistent core populations comprised the bulk of the biomass within any given clade. As such, we postulate that these core populations are largely responsible for microbially driven ecosystem processes, and so represent ideal targets for elucidating key microbial processes in the open-ocean water column.
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Key words
microbial oceanography,metagenomics,microbial evolution,temporal stability,time series,water column
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