Response of Microbial Communities to Changing Climate Conditions During Summer Cyanobacterial Blooms in the Baltic Sea

Front Microbiol. 2018 Jul 25:9:1562. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01562. eCollection 2018.


Frequencies and biomass of Baltic Sea cyanobacterial blooms are expected to be higher in future climate conditions, but also of longer duration as a result of increased sea surface temperature. Concurrently, climate predictions indicate a reduced salinity in the Baltic Sea. These climate-driven changes are expected to alter not solely the phytoplankton community but also the role of microbial communities for nutrient remineralization. Here, we present the response of summer plankton communities (filamentous cyanobacteria, picocyanobacteria, and heterotrophic bacteria) to the interplay of increasing temperature (from 16 to 18°C and 20°C) and reduced salinity (from salinity 6.9 to 5.9) in the Baltic Proper (NW Gotland Sea) using a microcosm approach. Warmer temperatures led to an earlier peak of cyanobacterial biomass, while yields were reduced. These conditions caused a decrease of nitrogen-fixers (Dolichospermum sp.) biomass, while non nitrogen-fixers (Pseudanabaena sp.) increased. Salinity reduction did not affect cyanobacterial growth nor community composition. Among heterotrophic bacteria, Actinobacteria showed preference for high temperature, while Gammaproteobacteria thrived at in situ temperature. Heterotrophic bacteria community changed drastically at lower salinity and resembled communities at high temperature. Picocyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacterial biomass had a pronounced increase associated with the decay of filamentous cyanobacteria. This suggests that shifts in community composition of heterotrophic bacteria are influenced both directly by abiotic factors (temperature and salinity) and potentially indirectly by cyanobacteria. Our findings suggest that at warmer temperature, lower yield of photosynthetic cyanobacteria combined with lower proportion of nitrogen-fixers in the community could result in lower carbon export to the marine food web with consequences for the decomposer community of heterotrophic bacteria.

Keywords: 16S rRNA; Baltic Sea; biomass; climate change; cyanobacteria; heterotrophic bacteria; microscopy; summer bloom.