Composition of supralittoral sediments bacterial communities in a Mediterranean island
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Marine coasts represent highly dynamic ecosystems, with sandy beaches being one of the most heterogeneous. Despite the key importance of sandy beaches as transition ecosystems between sea and land, very few studies on the microbiological composition of beach sediments have been performed. To provide a first description of microbial composition of supralittoral sediments, we investigated the composition of bacterial communities of three sandy beaches, at Favignana Island, Italy, using metagenetic approaches (Terminal-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism, sequencing of 16S rRNA genes by Illumina-Solexa technology, functional genes detection, and quantitative Real-Time PCR). Results showed that the investigated beaches are harboring a rich bacterial diversity, mainly composed by members of classes Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Flavobacteria and Actinobacteria. The metagenetic analysis showed profiles of decreasing beta diversity and increasing richness, as well as a differentiation of communities, along the sea-to-land axis. In particular, members of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria displayed contrasting profiles of relative abundance (to decrease and to increase, respectively) along the sea-to-land axis of the beach. Finally, a search for the presence of genes related to the nitrogen and carbon biogeochemical cycle (nifH, nosZ, pmoA/amoA) detected the presence of ammonia monoxygenase sequences (amoA) only, suggesting the presence of bacterial ammonia oxidation to some extent, probably due to members of Nitrospira, but with the lack of nitrogen fixation and denitrification.
KeywordsSupralittoral zone Sandy beaches Bacterial communities T-RFLP 16S rRNA gene Metabarcoding
We are grateful to the Marine Protected Area “Isole Egadi” for authorization to obtain samplings. This work was supported by intramural funding (Fondo di Ateneo, ex 60%) of the University of Florence to AU and AM.
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