Community dynamics are central in microbial ecology, yet we lack studies comparing diversity patterns among marine protists and prokaryotes over depth and multiple years. Here, we characterized microbes at the San-Pedro Ocean Time series (2005–2018), using SSU rRNA gene sequencing from two size fractions (0.2–1 and 1–80 μm), with a universal primer set that amplifies from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, allowing direct comparisons of diversity patterns in a single set of analyses. The 16S + 18S rRNA gene composition in the small size fraction was mostly prokaryotic (>92%) as expected, but the large size fraction unexpectedly contained 46–93% prokaryotic 16S rRNA genes. Prokaryotes and protists showed opposite vertical diversity patterns; prokaryotic diversity peaked at mid-depth, protistan diversity at the surface. Temporal beta-diversity patterns indicated prokaryote communities were much more stable than protists. Although the prokaryotic communities changed monthly, the average community stayed remarkably steady over 14 years, showing high resilience. Additionally, particle-associated prokaryotes were more diverse than smaller free-living ones, especially at deeper depths, contributed unexpectedly by abundant and diverse SAR11 clade II. Eukaryotic diversity was strongly correlated with the diversity of particle-associated prokaryotes but not free-living ones, reflecting that physical associations result in the strongest interactions, including symbioses, parasitism, and decomposermore »
Evaluating and Improving Small Subunit rRNA PCR Primer Coverage for Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes Using Metagenomes from Global Ocean Surveys
ABSTRACT Small subunit rRNA (SSU rRNA) amplicon sequencing can quantitatively and comprehensively profile natural microbiomes, representing a critically important tool for studying diverse global ecosystems. However, results will only be accurate if PCR primers perfectly match the rRNA of all organisms present. To evaluate how well marine microorganisms across all 3 domains are detected by this method, we compared commonly used primers with >300 million rRNA gene sequences retrieved from globally distributed marine metagenomes. The best-performing primers compared to 16S rRNA of bacteria and archaea were 515Y/926R and 515Y/806RB, which perfectly matched over 96% of all sequences. Considering cyanobacterial and chloroplast 16S rRNA, 515Y/926R had the highest coverage (99%), making this set ideal for quantifying marine primary producers. For eukaryotic 18S rRNA sequences, 515Y/926R also performed best (88%), followed by V4R/V4RB (18S rRNA specific; 82%)—demonstrating that the 515Y/926R combination performs best overall for all 3 domains. Using Atlantic and Pacific Ocean samples, we demonstrate high correspondence between 515Y/926R amplicon abundances (generated for this study) and metagenomic 16S rRNA (median R 2 = 0.98, n = 272), indicating amplicons can produce equally accurate community composition data compared with shotgun metagenomics. Our analysis also revealed that expected performance of all primer sets could be more »
- Gilbert, Jack A.
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Contrasting diversity patterns of prokaryotes and protists over time and depth at the San-Pedro Ocean Time series
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