Planctomycetes are bacteria that were long thought to be unculturable, of low abundance, and therefore neglectable in the environment. This view changed in recent years, after it was shown that members of the phylum Planctomycetes can be abundant in many aquatic environments, e.g., in the epiphytic communities on macroalgae surfaces. Here, we analyzed three different macroalgae from the North Sea and show that Planctomycetes is the most abundant bacterial phylum on the alga Fucus sp., while it represents a minor fraction of the surface-associated bacterial community of Ulva sp. and Laminaria sp. Especially dominant within the phylum Planctomycetes were Blastopirellula sp., followed by Rhodopirellula sp., Rubripirellula sp., as well as other Pirellulaceae and Lacipirellulaceae, but also members of the OM190 lineage. Motivated by the observed abundance, we isolated four novel planctomycetal strains to expand the collection of species available as axenic cultures since access to different strains is a prerequisite to investigate the success of planctomycetes in marine environments. The isolated strains constitute four novel species belonging to one novel and three previously described genera in the order Pirellulales, class Planctomycetia, phylum Planctomycetes.
Keywords: Fucus sp.; Lacipirellulaceae; Laminaria sp.; Pirellulaceae; Ulva sp.; budding bacteria; epiphytic community; macroalgae; marine biofilms.