Marine microbes exhibit seasonal cycles in community composition, yet the key drivers of these patterns and microbial population fidelity to specific environmental conditions remain to be determined. To begin addressing these questions, we characterized microbial dynamics weekly for 3 years at a temperate, coastal site with dramatic environmental seasonality. This high-resolution time series reveals that changes in microbial community composition are not continuous; over the duration of the time series, the community instead resolves into distinct summer and winter profiles with rapid spring and fall transitions between these states. Here, we show that these community shifts involve switching between closely related strains that exhibit either summer or winter preferences. Moreover, taxa repeat this process annually in both this and another temperate coastal time series, suggesting that this phenomenon may be widespread in marine ecosystems. To address potential biogeochemical impacts of these community changes, PICRUSt-based metagenomes predict seasonality in transporters, photosynthetic proteins, peptidases and carbohydrate metabolic pathways in spite of closely related summer- and winter-associated taxa. Thus, even small temperature shifts, such as those predicted by climate change models, could affect both the structure and function of marine ecosystems.
Ward CD, Yung C-M, Davis KM, Blinebry SK, Williams TC, Johnson ZI, Hunt DE (2017). Annual community patterns are driven by seasonal switching between closely related marine bacteria. ISME J. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2017.4