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Biogeography of Southern Ocean prokaryotes: a comparison of the Indian and Pacific sectors


Sow, SLS and Brown, MV and Clarke, LJ and Bissett, A and van de Kamp, J and Trull, TW and Raes, EJ and Seymour, JR and Bramucci, AR and Ostrowski, M and Boyd, PW and Deagle, BE and Pardo, PC and Sloyan, BM and Bodrossy, L, Biogeography of Southern Ocean prokaryotes: a comparison of the Indian and Pacific sectors, Environmental Microbiology, 24, (5) pp. 2449-2466. ISSN 1462-2912 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2022 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly sited.

DOI: doi:10.1111/1462-2920.15906


We investigated the Southern Ocean (SO) prokaryote community structure via zero-radius operational taxonomic unit (zOTU) libraries generated from 16S rRNA gene sequencing of 223 full water column profiles. Samples reveal the prokaryote diversity trend between discrete water masses across multiple depths and latitudes in Indian (71-99 degree E, summer) and Pacific (170-174 degree W, autumn-winter) sectors of the SO. At higher taxonomic levels (phylum-family) we observed water masses to harbour distinct communities across both sectors, but observed sectorial variations at lower taxonomic levels (genus-zOTU) and relative abundance shifts for key taxa such as Flavobacteria, SAR324/Marinimicrobia, Nitrosopumilus and Nitrosopelagicus at both epi- and bathy-abyssopelagic water masses. Common surface bacteria were abundant in several deep-water masses and vice-versa suggesting connectivity between surface and deep-water microbial assemblages. Bacteria from same-sector Antarctic Bottom Water samples showed patchy, high beta-diversity which did not correlate well with measured environmental parameters or geographical distance. Unconventional depth distribution patterns were observed for key archaeal groups: Crenarchaeota was found across all depths in the water column and persistent high relative abundances of common epipelagic archaeon Nitrosopelagicus was observed in deep-water masses. Our findings reveal substantial regional variability of SO prokaryote assemblages that we argue should be considered in wide-scale SO ecosystem microbial modelling.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biogeography, bacteria, Archaea, marine, pelagic
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Protection and conservation of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Sow, SLS (Ms Swan Sow)
UTAS Author:Clarke, LJ (Dr Laurence Clarke)
UTAS Author:Trull, TW (Professor Thomas Trull)
UTAS Author:Boyd, PW (Professor Philip Boyd)
ID Code:152969
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Australian Antarctic Program Partnership
Deposited On:2022-08-30
Last Modified:2022-11-23
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