Picoplankton diversity in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas
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Microbes, which are organisms that are visible only with a microscope, drive global biogeochemical cycling and CO2-fixing forms are the base of the marine arctic food web. Two of the three domains of life, Bacteria and Archaea, are exclusively microbial, and microbes account for the majority of diversity within the third domain, Eucarya. Although morphological diversity among the smallest microbes is limited, phylogenetic diversity among microbes is vast. With each of several major technological advances, estimates of global microbial diversity increase by orders of magnitude. The Arctic is no exception, with most major groups of marine microbes having been found in arctic marine waters using molecular biological techniques. Here we provide a brief overview of microbial diversity revealed by environmental surveys of the small subunit rRNA gene (SS rRNA), which is the most widely used marker for identifying microbes. Similar to larger phytoplankton identified morphologically, small heterotrophic prokaryotes and photosynthetic eukaryotes in the Arctic are a mixture of uniquely arctic taxa and more cosmopolitan species. Among Bacteria, Proteobacteria are predominant in surface and deep waters as with other oceans. However, the recent massively parallel sequencing of the SS rRNA gene has revealed that at finer taxonomic scales arctic bacterial and archaeal communities also differ from their temperate counterparts, suggesting endemicity as well.
KeywordsArctic Ocean Bacteria Archaea Eucarya Biodiversity Gene surveys Pyrosequencing
C.L. was supported for this work by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) SRO and Discovery grants and ArcticNet. We thank André Comeau for comments and useful discussions. D.L.K. was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) OPP 0806295 and NSF OPP 0632233. We also thank ArcOD investigators, especially Bodil Bluhm for the invitation and inspiration to write this review. Comments from three anonymous reviewers greatly improved the original manuscript, and we thank them for their time attention to detail. This publication is part of the Census of Marine Life’s Arctic Ocean Diversity project synthesis and was originally presented at the Arctic Frontiers Conference in Tromsø, Norway, January 2010. The support and initiative of ARCTOS and Arctic Frontiers are gratefully acknowledged.
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