Spatial variation of picoplankton communities along a cascade reservoir system in Patagonia, Argentina


  • M. Carolina Bernal | Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Lunhui Lu Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chongqing, China.
  • Carmen Sabio y García Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • María Laura Sánchez Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • M. Solange Vera Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Sol Porcel Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Rodrigo Sinistro Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Zhe Li Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chongqing, China.
  • Irina Izaguirre Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


In this study we explored how picoplankton community structure and diversity varied along three cascade oligo-mesotrophic reservoirs of the Limay River (Patagonia, Argentina): Alicura, Piedra del Águila and Ramos Mexía. We analyzed the spatial changes, covering lotic and lentic stretches along a gradient of 262 km from Andes to steppe, and we also sampled the main affluent of the Limay River (Collon Cura). In all sampling sites the main limnological variables were measured, and the picoplankton abundance (autotrophic and heterotrophic) was analyzed by flow cytometry. The bacterial biodiversity was assessed using high throughput sequencing Illumina MiSeq. We expected an increase in the trophic state along this series of cascade reservoirs, which would determine spatial differences in the structure of the picoplankton communities. We also hypothesized that the lotic and lentic conditions along the system would influence the bacterial composition. The results showed a slight increase in trophic state together with an increase in overall picoplankton abundance downstream, towards Ramos Mexía Reservoir. Picocyanobacteria were represented by phycoerythrin-rich cells all along the system, in accordance to the pattern described for oligotrophic aquatic ecosystems. Multivariate analyses based on bacterial OTU composition and environmental variables showed a spatial ordination of sites following the trend of increasing trophic state downstream. Molecular analyses of bacterial OTU diversity also showed an increase in richness and a decrease in evenness at the lotic stretches, and the opposite pattern in the reservoirs, suggesting that water retention time may play a role in structuring the community composition.



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80 Years of the Journal of Limnology
Supporting Agencies
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET, Argentina), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)
Cascade reservoirs, Patagonia , picoplankton , flow cytometry , bacterial biodiversity
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How to Cite
Bernal MC, Lu L, Sabio y García C, Sánchez ML, Vera MS, Porcel S, Sinistro R, Li Z, Izaguirre I. Spatial variation of picoplankton communities along a cascade reservoir system in Patagonia, Argentina. J Limnol [Internet]. 2021 Sep. 3 [cited 2021 Sep. 24];. Available from: