Effect of oxygen minimum zone formation on communities of marine protists

ISME J. 2012 Aug;6(8):1586-601. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.7. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


Changes in ocean temperature and circulation patterns compounded by human activities are leading to oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) expansion with concomitant alteration in nutrient and climate active trace gas cycling. Here, we report the response of microbial eukaryote populations to seasonal changes in water column oxygen-deficiency using Saanich Inlet, a seasonally anoxic fjord on the coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia, as a model ecosystem. We combine small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequencing approaches with multivariate statistical methods to reveal shifts in operational taxonomic units during successive stages of seasonal stratification and renewal. A meta-analysis is used to identify common and unique patterns of community composition between Saanich Inlet and the anoxic/sulfidic Cariaco Basin (Venezuela) and Framvaren Fjord (Norway) to show shared and unique responses of microbial eukaryotes to oxygen and sulfide in these three environments. Our analyses also reveal temporal fluctuations in rare populations of microbial eukaryotes, particularly anaerobic ciliates, that may be of significant importance to the biogeochemical cycling of methane in OMZs. Eukaryotic 18S rRNA gene sequences recovered from the Saanich Inlet water column on were deposited in Genbank under accession numbers HQ864863–HQ871151.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity*
  • British Columbia
  • Ciliophora / classification
  • Ciliophora / genetics
  • Ciliophora / physiology
  • Eukaryota / classification*
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Norway
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Seasons
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Venezuela


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • Oxygen