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In various water depths of the littoral zone of Lake Constance (Bodensee) cyanobacteria of the Synechococcus-type were isolated from biofilms (periphyton) on three natural substrates and an artificial one (unglazed tiles). From one tile three strains of phycoerythrin (PE)-rich Synechococcus spp. were isolated, the first examples of these organisms in the epibenthos. Phylogenetic inference based on the 16S–23S rRNA intergenic spacer (ITS-1) assigned all periphytic isolates to two clusters of the picophytoplankton clade (evolutionary lineage VI of cyanobacteria). The sequence divergence in the ITS-1 was used to design specific PCR primers to allow direct, culture-independent detection and quantification of isolated Synechococcus strains in natural periphytic and pelagic samples. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis revealed depth-related differences of Synechococcus spp. distribution on tiles placed in the littoral zone. Synechococcus genotypes were observed which occurred in both the periphyton (on tiles) and in the pelagic picoplankton. A strain with one of these genotypes, Synechococcus sp. BO 8805, was isolated from the pelagic zone in 1988. Its genotype was found on tiles that had been exposed at different water depths in the littoral zone in spring and autumn of the year 2000. Quantitative analysis with a genotype-specific TaqMan probe and real-time Taq nuclease assays (TNA) confirmed its presence in the pelagic zone, although appearance of this and related genotypes was highly irregular and exhibited strong differences between consecutive years. Our results show that the ability to form significant subpopulations in pelagic and periphytic communities exists in three out of four phylogenetic clusters of Synechococcus spp. in Lake Constance. This versatility may be a key feature in the ubiquity of the evolutionary lineage VI of cyanobacteria. [KEYWORDS: Synechococcus-type picocyanobacteria; Periphyton; Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; Phylogenetic analysis; Quantitative Taq nuclease assay]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004

ID: 102551