Coastal microbial mats are small-scale and largely closed ecosystems in which a plethora of different functional groups of microorganisms are responsible for the biogeochemical cycling of the elements. Coastal microbial mats play an important role in coastal protection and morphodynamics through stabilization of the sediments and by initiating the development of salt-marshes. Little is known about the bacterial and especially archaeal diversity and how it contributes to the ecological functioning of coastal microbial mats. Here, we analyzed three different types of coastal microbial mats that are located along a tidal gradient and can be characterized as marine (ST2), brackish (ST3) and freshwater (ST3) systems. The mats were sampled during three different seasons and subjected to massive parallel tag sequencing of the V6 region of the 16S rRNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea. Sequence analysis revealed that the mats are among the most diverse marine ecosystems studied so far and consist of several novel taxonomic levels ranging from classes to species. The diversity between the different mat types was far more pronounced than the changes between the different seasons at one location. The archaeal community for these mats have not been studied before and revealed a strong reaction on a short period of draught during summer resulting in a massive increase in halobacterial sequences, whereas the bacterial community was barely affected. We concluded that the community composition and the microbial diversity were intrinsic of the mat type and depend on the location along the tidal gradient indicating a relation with salinity.
|Publication status||Published - 2011|