Diversity and distribution of Archaea in global estuarine ecosystems
Xiaobo Liu, Jie Pan, Yang Liu, Meng Li, Ji-Dong Gu
Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology and Toxicology, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.
Estuarine ecosystem is a unique geographical transitional zone between freshwater and seawater, harboring a wide range of microbial communities including Archaea. Although a large number of Archaea have been detected in such ecosystem, the global patterns in archaeal diversity and distribution are extremely scarce. To bridge this gap, we carried out a comprehensive survey of archaeal communities using ca. 4000 publicly available archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences (>300 bp) collected from 24 estuaries in different latitude regions. These sequences were divided into 1450 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at 97% identity, suggesting a high biodiversity that increased gradually from the high- to low-latitude estuaries. Phylogenetic analysis showed that estuarine ecosystem was a large biodiversity pool of Archaea that was mainly composed of 12 phyla. Among them, the predominant groups were Bathyarchaeota, Euryarchaeota and Thaumarchaeota. Interestingly, archaeal distribution demonstrated a geographical differentiation in that Thaumarchaeota was dominated in the low-latitude estuaries, Bathyarchaeota in the mid-latitude estuaries, and Euryarchaeota in the high-latitude estuaries, respectively. Furthermore, the majority of the most abundant 20 OTUs demonstrated an overrepresented or underrepresented distribution pattern in some specific estuaries or latitude regions while a few were evenly distributed throughout the estuaries. This pattern indicates a potential selectivity of geographical distribution. In addition, the analysis of environmental parameters suggested that latitude would be one of the major factors driving the distribution of archaeal communities in estuarine ecosystem. This study profiles a clear framework on the diversity and distribution of Archaea in the global estuarine ecosystem and explores the general environmental factors that influence these patterns. Our findings constitute an important part of the exploration of the global ecology of Archaea.
Keywords: Archaea, Diversity, Distribution, Estuary, Latitude.