FCE LTER Journal Articles


Changes in Community Structure of Sediment Bacteria Along the Florida Coastal Everglades Marsh–Mangrove–Seagrass Salinity Gradient


Community structure of sediment bacteria in the Everglades freshwater marsh, fringing mangrove forest, and Florida Bay seagrass meadows were described based on polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) patterns of 16S rRNA gene fragments and by sequencing analysis of DGGE bands. The DGGE patterns were correlated with the environmental variables by means of canonical correspondence analysis. There was no significant trend in the Shannon–Weiner index among the sediment samples along the salinity gradient. However, cluster analysis based on DGGE patterns revealed that the bacterial community structure differed according to sites. Not only were these salinity/vegetation regions distinct but the sediment bacteria communities were consistently different along the gradient from freshwater marsh, mangrove forest, eastern-central Florida Bay, and western Florida Bay. Actinobacteria- and Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi-like DNA sequences were amplified throughout all sampling sites. More Chloroflexi and members of candidate division WS3 were found in freshwater marsh and mangrove forest sites than in seagrass sites. The appearance of candidate division OP8-like DNA sequences in mangrove sites distinguished these communities from those of freshwater marsh. The seagrass sites were characterized by reduced presence of bands belonging to Chloroflexi with increased presence of those bands related to Cyanobacteria, γ-Proteobacteria, Spirochetes, and Planctomycetes. This included the sulfate-reducing bacteria, which are prevalent in marine environments. Clearly, bacterial communities in the sediment were different along the gradient, which can be explained mainly by the differences in salinity and total phosphorus.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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