The oceanographic features of the Nordic Seas, situated between Iceland and Svalbard, have been extensively studied over the last decades. As well, the Nordic Seas hydrothermal systems situated on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge System have received an increasing interest. However, there is very little knowledge on the microbial communities inhabiting the water column of the Nordic Seas, and nothing is known about the influence of the different water masses and hydrothermal plumes on the microbial community structures. In this study, we aimed at characterizing the impact of hydrothermal plumes on prokaryotic and T4-like viral communities around the island of Jan Mayen. To this end, we used 16S rRNA-gene and g23-gene profiling as well as flow cytometry counts to examine prokaryotic and viral communities in 27 samples obtained from different water masses in this area. While Thaumarchaeota and Marine group II Archaea dominated the waters deeper than 500 m, members of Flavobacteria generally dominated the shallower waters. Furthermore, extensive chemical and physical characteristics of all samples were obtained, including temperature measurements and concentrations of major ions and gases. The effect of these physiochemical variables on the communities was measured by using constrained and unconstrained multivariate analyzes, Mantel tests, network analyzes, phylogenetic analyzes, taxonomic analyzes and temperature-salinity (Θ-S) plots. Our results suggest that hydrothermal activity has little effect on pelagic microbial communities in hydrothermal plumes of the Nordic Seas. However, we provide evidences that observed differences in prokaryotic community structure can largely be attributed to which water mass each sample was taken from. In contrast, depth was the major factor structuring the T4-like viral communities. Our results also show that it is crucial to include water masses when studying the influence of hydrothermal plumes on microbial communities, as it could prevent to falsely associate a change in community structure with the presence of a plume.
Keywords: community profiling; hydrothermal plume; marine microbiology; microbial ecology; viral ecology; water mass.