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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Metagenomic insights into zooplankton-associated bacterial communities.

  • Author(s): De Corte, Daniele
  • Srivastava, Abhishek
  • Koski, Marja
  • Garcia, Juan Antonio L
  • Takaki, Yoshihiro
  • Yokokawa, Taichi
  • Nunoura, Takuro
  • Elisabeth, Nathalie H
  • Sintes, Eva
  • Herndl, Gerhard J
  • et al.

Zooplankton and microbes play a key role in the ocean's biological cycles by releasing and consuming copious amounts of particulate and dissolved organic matter. Additionally, zooplankton provide a complex microhabitat rich in organic and inorganic nutrients in which bacteria thrive. In this study, we assessed the phylogenetic composition and metabolic potential of microbial communities associated with crustacean zooplankton species collected in the North Atlantic. Using Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, we found significant differences between the microbial communities associated with zooplankton and those inhabiting the surrounding seawater. Metagenomic analysis of the zooplankton-associated microbial community revealed a highly specialized bacterial community able to exploit zooplankton as microhabitat and thus, mediating biogeochemical processes generally underrepresented in the open ocean. The zooplankton-associated bacterial community is able to colonize the zooplankton's internal and external surfaces using a large set of adhesion mechanisms and to metabolize complex organic compounds released or exuded by the zooplankton such as chitin, taurine and other complex molecules. Moreover, the high number of genes involved in iron and phosphorus metabolisms in the zooplankton-associated microbiome suggests that this zooplankton-associated bacterial community mediates specific biogeochemical processes (through the proliferation of specific taxa) that are generally underrepresented in the ambient waters.

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