Marine microbial communities of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon are influenced by riverine floodwaters and seasonal weather events

Angly, Florent E., Heath, Candice, Morgan, Thomas C., Tonin, Hemerson, Rich, Virginia, Schaffelke, Britta, Bourne, David G., and Tyson, Gene W. (2016) Marine microbial communities of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon are influenced by riverine floodwaters and seasonal weather events. PeerJ, 4. e1511. pp. 1-24.

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Abstract

The role of microorganisms in maintaining coral reef health is increasingly recognized. Riverine floodwater containing herbicides and excess nutrients from fertilizers compromises water quality in the inshore Great Barrier Reef (GBR), with unknown consequences for planktonic marine microbial communities and thus coral reefs. In this baseline study, inshore GBR microbial communities were monitored along a 124 km long transect between 2011 and 2013 using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Members of the bacterial orders Rickettsiales (e.g., Pelagibacteraceae) and Synechococcales (e.g., Prochlorococcus), and of the archaeal class Marine Group II were prevalent in all samples, exhibiting a clear seasonal dynamics. Microbial communities near the Tully river mouth included a mixture of taxa from offshore marine sites and from the river system. The environmental parameters collected could be summarized into four groups, represented by salinity, rainfall, temperature and water quality, that drove the composition of microbial communities. During the wet season, lower salinity and a lower water quality index resulting from higher river discharge corresponded to increases in riverine taxa at sites near the river mouth. Particularly large, transient changes in microbial community structure were seen during the extreme wet season 2010–11, and may be partially attributed to the effects of wind and waves, which resuspend sediments and homogenize the water column in shallow near-shore regions. This work shows that anthropogenic floodwaters and other environmental parameters work in conjunction to drive the spatial distribution of microorganisms in the GBR lagoon, as well as their seasonal and daily dynamics.

Item ID: 47932
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: microbiology; coral reefs; anthropogenic impacts; amplicon sequencing; monitoring; seasonality; floodwaters
Additional Information:

Copyright 2016 Angly et al. Distributed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Caring for our Country Program, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award #DE120101213, ARC Queen Elizabeth II #DP1093175
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2017 01:27
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0605 Microbiology > 060504 Microbial Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0605 Microbiology > 060503 Microbial Genetics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
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