Photosynthetic characteristics and diversity of freshwater Synechococcus at two depths during different mixing conditions in a deep oligotrophic lake

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Cristiana CALLIERI *
Gianluca CORNO
(*) Corresponding Author:
Cristiana CALLIERI |


We studied the photosynthetic characteristics and genetic diversity of Synechococcus assemblages at two different light and mixing conditions in a deep oligotrophic lake (Lake Maggiore, Northern Italy). Sampling was performed at the beginning of summer stratification, when the base of the photic zone was isolated by the presence of a shallower thermocline, and during late summer, when the mixing layer extended below the photic zone. Two depths were sampled (15 % and 1 % of surface PAR). To study the diversity of Synechococcus, we used a classical molecular fingerprinting technique (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis, DGGE) with ambient samples and sequencing of the prominent bands. The ecotypes selected within the samples from different depths were different in photosynthetic characteristics and grew in a range of nutrient concentrations. The OTUs colonizing different niches in the water column did not show any significant clustering. However, the OTU richness was significantly different at the two depths in spring, reaching the highest values at 15 % of surface PAR. Cluster analysis of DGGE lanes provided evidence of different community compositions between spring and late summer. Sequencing of the most prominent bands showed one spring OTU affiliated to the Synechococcus subalpine cluster I, with 100% similarity to LM94, MW76B2 and MW15#2 (sensu Crosbie et al. 2003a), not present in late summer. Another OTU present both in spring and late summer showed 100% similarity to MH301, a strain near to subalpine cluster II. Our results support the coexistence of ecotypes in the vertical gradients, rapidly acclimating and performing differently in the microhabitats.

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