Mesocosms of Aquatic Bacterial Communities from the Cuatro Cienegas Basin (Mexico): A Tool to Test Bacterial Community Response to Environmental Stress
Microbial communities are responsible for important ecosystem processes, and their activities are regulated by environmental factors such as temperature and solar ultraviolet radiation. Here we investigate changes in aquatic microbial community structure, diversity, and evenness in response to changes in temperature and UV radiation. For this purpose, 15 mesocosms were seeded with both microbial mat communities and plankton from natural pools within the Cuatro Cienegas Basin (Mexico). Clone libraries (16S rRNA) were obtained from water samples at the beginning and at the end of the experiment (40 days). Phylogenetic analysis indicated substantial changes in aquatic community composition and structure in response to temperature and UV radiation. Extreme treatments with elevation in temperature or UV radiation reduced diversity in relation to the Control treatments, causing a reduction in richness and increase in dominance, with a proliferation of a few resistant operational taxonomic units. Each phylum was affected differentially by the new conditions, which translates in a differential modification of ecosystem functioning. This suggests that the impact of environmental stress, at least at short term, will reshape the aquatic bacterial communities of this unique ecosystem. This work also demonstrates the possibility of designing manageable synthetic microbial community ecosystems where controlled environmental variables can be manipulated. Therefore, microbial model systems offer a complementary approach to field and laboratory studies of global research problems associated with the environment.