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  1. Abstract

    Short timescale observations are valuable for understanding microbial ecological processes. We assessed dynamics in relative abundance and potential activities by sequencing the small sub-unit ribosomal RNA gene (rRNA gene) and rRNA molecules (rRNA) of Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota once to twice daily between March 2014 and May 2014 from the surface ocean off Catalina Island, California. Typically Ostreococcus, Braarudosphaera, Teleaulax, and Synechococcus dominated phytoplankton sequences (including chloroplasts) while SAR11, Sulfitobacter, and Fluviicola dominated non-phytoplankton Bacteria and Archaea. We observed short-lived increases of diatoms, mostly Pseudo-nitzschia and Chaetoceros, with quickly responding Bacteria and Archaea including Flavobacteriaceae (Polaribacter & Formosa), Roseovarius, and Euryarchaeota (MGII), notably the exact amplicon sequence variants we observed responding similarly to another diatom bloom nearby, 3 years prior. We observed correlations representing known interactions among abundant phytoplankton rRNA sequences, demonstrating the biogeochemical and ecological relevance of such interactions: (1) The kleptochloroplastidic ciliate Mesodinium 18S rRNA gene sequences and a single Teleaulax taxon (via 16S rRNA gene sequences) were correlated (Spearman r = 0.83) yet uncorrelated to a Teleaulax 18S rRNA gene OTU, or any other taxon (consistent with a kleptochloroplastidic or karyokleptic relationship) and (2) the photosynthetic prymnesiophyte Braarudosphaera bigelowii and two strains of diazotrophic cyanobacterium UCYN-A were correlated and each taxon was also correlated to other taxa, including B. bigelowii to a verrucomicrobium and a dictyochophyte phytoplankter (all r > 0.8). We also report strong correlations (r > 0.7) between various ciliates, bacteria, and phytoplankton, suggesting interactions via currently unknown mechanisms. These data reiterate the utility of high-frequency time series to show rapid microbial reactions to stimuli, and provide new information about in situ dynamics of previously recognized and hypothesized interactions.

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  2. Summary

    Universal primers for SSU rRNA genes allow profiling of natural communities by simultaneously amplifying templates from Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota in a single PCR reaction. Despite the potential to show relative abundance for all rRNA genes, universal primers are rarely used, due to various concerns including amplicon length variation and its effect on bioinformatic pipelines. We thus developed 16S and 18S rRNA mock communities and a bioinformatic pipeline to validate this approach. Using these mocks, we show that universal primers (515Y/926R) outperformed eukaryote‐specific V4 primers in observed versus expected abundance correlations (slope = 0.88 vs. 0.67–0.79), and mock community members with single mismatches to the primer were strongly underestimated (threefold to eightfold). Using field samples, both primers yielded similar 18S beta‐diversity patterns (Mantel test,p < 0.001) but differences in relative proportions of many rarer taxa. To test for length biases, we mixed mock communities (16S + 18S) before PCR and found a twofold underestimation of 18S sequences due to sequencing bias. Correcting for the twofold underestimation, we estimate that, in Southern California field samples (1.2–80 μm), there were averages of 35% 18S, 28% chloroplast 16S, and 37% prokaryote 16S rRNA genes. These data demonstrate the potential for universal primers to generate comprehensive microbiome profiles.

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