Spatio-temporal dynamics of sulfur bacteria during oxic--anoxic regime shifts in a seasonally stratified lake


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Abstract

Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria drive major transformations in the sulfur cycle, and play vital roles in oxic--anoxic transitions in lakes and coastal waters. However, information on the succession of these sulfur bacteria in seasonally stratified lakes using molecular biological techniques is scarce. Here, we used 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to study the spatio-temporal dynamics of sulfur bacteria during oxic--anoxic regime shifts in Lake Vechten. Oxygen and sulfate were mixed throughout the water column in winter and early spring. Meanwhile, SRB, green sulfur bacteria (GSB), purple sulfur bacteria (PSB), and colorless sulfur bacteria (CSB) exclusively inhabited the sediment. After the water column stratified, oxygen and nitrate concentrations decreased in the hypolimnion and various SRB species expanded into the anoxic hypolimnion. Consequently, sulfate was reduced to sulfide, stimulating the growth of PSB and GSB in the metalimnion and hypolimnion during summer stratification. When hypoxia spread throughout the water column during fall turnover, SRB and GSB vanished from the water column, whereas CSB (mainly Arcobacter) and PSB (Lamprocystis) became dominant and oxidized the accumulated sulfide under micro-aerobic conditions. Our results support the view that, once ecosystems have become anoxic and sulfidic, a large oxygen influx is needed to overcome the anaerobic sulfur cycle and bring the ecosystems back into their oxic state.

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