Image_4_Patterns of Relative and Quantitative Abundances of Marine Bacteria in Surface Waters of the Subtropical Northwest Pacific Ocean Estimated With High-Throughput Quantification Sequencing.TIF
Bacteria play a pivotal role in shaping ecosystems and contributing to elemental cycling and energy flow in the oceans. However, few studies have focused on bacteria at a trans-basin scale, and studies across the subtropical Northwest Pacific Ocean (NWPO), one of the largest biomes on Earth, have been especially lacking. Although the recently developed high-throughput quantitative sequencing methodology can simultaneously provide information on relative abundance, quantitative abundance, and taxonomic affiliations, it has not been thoroughly evaluated. We collected surface seawater samples for high-throughput, quantitative sequencing of 16S rRNA genes on a transect across the subtropical NWPO to elucidate the distribution of bacterial taxa, patterns of their community structure, and the factors that are potentially important regulators of that structure. We used the quantitative and relative abundances of bacterial taxa to test hypotheses related to their ecology. Total 16S rRNA gene copies ranged from 1.86 × 108 to 1.14 × 109 copies L−1. Bacterial communities were distributed in distinct geographical patterns with spatially adjacent stations clustered together. Spatial considerations may be more important determinants of bacterial community structures than measured environmental variables. The quantitative and relative abundances of bacterial communities exhibited similar distribution patterns and potentially important determinants at the whole-community level, but inner-community connections and correlations with variables differed at subgroup levels. This study advanced understanding of the community structure and distribution patterns of marine bacteria as well as some potentially important determinants thereof in a subtropical oligotrophic ocean system. Results highlighted the importance of considering both the quantitative and relative abundances of members of marine bacterial communities.