, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 589-601
Date: 15 Dec 2005

Bacterial Community Succession in Natural River Biofilm Assemblages

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Temporal bacterial community changes in river biofilms were studied using 16S rRNA gene-based polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) followed by sequence analysis. Naturally occurring biofilms were sampled in 2001 during an undisturbed 7-month low-water period in the River Garonne (SW France). During the sampling period epilithic biomass exhibited a particular pattern: two 3-month periods of accumulation that resulted in two peaks in summer and fall, each at about 25 g ash-free dry mass per square meter. Bacterial community DGGE profiles differed between the summer and fall biomass peaks and shared only 30% common operational taxonomic units (OTUs), suggesting the influence of seasonal factors on these communities. During the second biomass accrual phase, bacterial richness and the appearance of new OTUs fitted a conceptual model of bacterial biofilm succession. During succession, five OTUs (corresponding to Dechloromonas sp., Nitrospira sp., and three different Spirosoma spp.) exhibited particular patterns and were present only during clearly defined successional stages, suggesting differences in life-history strategies for epilithic bacteria. Co-inertia analysis of DGGE banding patterns and physical–chemical data showed a significant relationship between community structure and environmental conditions suggesting that bacterial communities were mainly influenced by seasonal changes (temperature, light) and hydrodynamic stability. Within the periods of stability, analysis of environmental variables and community patterns showed the dominant influence of time and maturation on bacterial community structure. Thus, succession in these naturally occurring epilithic biofilm assemblages appears to occur through a combination of allogenic (seasonal) and autogenic changes.