Effects of allochthonous dissolved organic matter input on microbial composition and nitrogen-cycling genes at two contrasting estuarine sites

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 Sep 1;95(9):fiz123. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiz123.


Heterotrophic bacteria are important drivers of nitrogen (N) cycling and the processing of dissolved organic matter (DOM). Projected increases in precipitation will potentially cause increased loads of riverine DOM to the Baltic Sea and likely affect the composition and function of bacterioplankton communities. To investigate this, the effects of riverine DOM from two different catchment areas (agricultural and forest) on natural bacterioplankton assemblages from two contrasting sites in the Baltic Sea were examined. Two microcosm experiments were carried out, where the community composition (16S rRNA gene sequencing), the composition of a suite of N-cycling genes (metagenomics) and the abundance and transcription of ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes involved in nitrification (quantitative PCR) were investigated. The river water treatments evoked a significant response in bacterial growth, but the effects on overall community composition and the representation of N-cycling genes were limited. Instead, treatment effects were reflected in the prevalence of specific taxonomic families, specific N-related functions and in the transcription of amoA genes. The study suggests that bacterioplankton responses to changes in the DOM pool are constrained to part of the bacterial community, whereas most taxa remain relatively unaffected.

Keywords: Baltic Sea; bacterioplankton; dissolved organic matter; metagenomics; nitrogen; river.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Baltic States
  • Estuaries
  • Heterotrophic Processes
  • Microbiota*
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Rivers / microbiology*
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Seawater / microbiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Nitrogen