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Global Patterns of Bacterial Beta-Diversity in Seafloor and Seawater Ecosystems

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      Marine microbial communities have been essential contributors to global biomass, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity since the early history of Earth, but so far their community distribution patterns remain unknown in most marine ecosystems.

      Methodology/Principal Findings

      The synthesis of 9.6 million bacterial V6-rRNA amplicons for 509 samples that span the global ocean's surface to the deep-sea floor shows that pelagic and benthic communities greatly differ, at all taxonomic levels, and share <10% bacterial types defined at 3% sequence similarity level. Surface and deep water, coastal and open ocean, and anoxic and oxic ecosystems host distinct communities that reflect productivity, land influences and other environmental constraints such as oxygen availability. The high variability of bacterial community composition specific to vent and coastal ecosystems reflects the heterogeneity and dynamic nature of these habitats. Both pelagic and benthic bacterial community distributions correlate with surface water productivity, reflecting the coupling between both realms by particle export. Also, differences in physical mixing may play a fundamental role in the distribution patterns of marine bacteria, as benthic communities showed a higher dissimilarity with increasing distance than pelagic communities.


      This first synthesis of global bacterial distribution across different ecosystems of the World's oceans shows remarkable horizontal and vertical large-scale patterns in bacterial communities. This opens interesting perspectives for the definition of biogeographical biomes for bacteria of ocean waters and the seabed.

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      Most cited references 83

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      R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing

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        A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems.

        The management and conservation of the world's oceans require synthesis of spatial data on the distribution and intensity of human activities and the overlap of their impacts on marine ecosystems. We developed an ecosystem-specific, multiscale spatial model to synthesize 17 global data sets of anthropogenic drivers of ecological change for 20 marine ecosystems. Our analysis indicates that no area is unaffected by human influence and that a large fraction (41%) is strongly affected by multiple drivers. However, large areas of relatively little human impact remain, particularly near the poles. The analytical process and resulting maps provide flexible tools for regional and global efforts to allocate conservation resources; to implement ecosystem-based management; and to inform marine spatial planning, education, and basic research.
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          R: a language and environment for statistical computing


            Author and article information

            [1 ]Microbial Habitat Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
            [2 ]Josephine Bay Paul Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, United States of America
            [3 ]Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
            [4 ]School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America
            [5 ]Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, United States of America
            [6 ]HGF MPG Joint Research Group on Deep Sea Ecology and Technology, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
            Argonne National Laboratory, United States of America
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: LZ AB AR. Performed the experiments: LZ LAAZ SMH DBMW AR. Analyzed the data: LZ LAAZ SMH DBMW AR. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: MS. Wrote the paper: LZ LAAZ JAF MCHD JBHM MS AB AR.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            8 September 2011
            : 6
            : 9
            Zinger et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 11
            Research Article
            Community Ecology
            Community Structure
            Marine Ecology
            Microbial Ecology
            Marine Biology
            Marine Ecology
            Microbial Ecology



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