Euxinic Freshwater Hypolimnia Promote Bacterial Endemicity in Continental Areas

Albert Barberán, Emilio O. Casamayor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Bacteria and archaea represent the vast majority of biodiversity on Earth. The ways that dynamic ecological and evolutionary processes interact in the microbial world are, however, poorly known. Here, we have explored community patterns of planktonic freshwater bacteria inhabiting stratified lakes with oxic/anoxic interfaces and euxinic (anoxic and sulfurous) water masses. The interface separates a well-oxygenated upper water mass (epilimnion) from a lower anoxic water compartment (hypolimnion). We assessed whether or not the vertical zonation of lakes promoted endemism in deeper layers by analyzing bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences from the water column of worldwide distributed stratified lakes and applying a community ecology approach. Community similarity based on the phylogenetic relatedness showed that bacterial assemblages from the same water layer were more similar across lakes than to communities from different layer within lakes and that anoxic hypolimnia presented greater β-diversity than oxic epilimnia. Higher β-diversity values are attributable to low dispersal and small connectivity between community patches. In addition, surface waters had significant spatial but non-significant environmental components controlling phylogenetic β-diversity patterns, respectively. Conversely, the bottom layers were significantly correlated with environment but not with geographic distance. Thus, we observed different ecological mechanisms simultaneously acting on the same water body. Overall, bacterial endemicity is probably more common than previously thought, particularly in isolated and environmentally heterogeneous freshwater habitats. We argue for a microbial diversity conservation perspective still lacking in the global and local biodiversity preservation policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-472
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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