Distribution and diversity of Prochlorococcus ecotypes in the Red Sea

Ahmed A. Shibl, Luke R. Thompson, David Ngugi, Ulrich Stingl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Photosynthetic prokaryotes of the genus Prochlorococcus play a major role in global primary production in the world's oligotrophic oceans. A recent study on pelagic bacterioplankton communities in the northern and central Red Sea indicated that the predominant cyanobacterial 16S rRNA gene sequence types were from Prochlorococcus cells belonging to a high-light-adapted ecotype (HL II). In this study, we analyzed microdiversity of Prochlorococcus sp. at multiple depths within and below the euphotic zone in the northern, central, and southern regions of the Red Sea, as well as in surface waters in the same locations, but in a different season. Prochlorococcus dominated the communities in clone libraries of the amplified 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. Almost no differences were found between samples from coastal or open-water sites, but a high diversity of Prochlorococcus ecotypes was detected at 100-meter depth in the water column. In addition, an unusual dominance of HL II-related sequences was observed in deeper waters. Our results indicate that the Red Sea harbors diverse Prochlorococcus lineages, but no novel ecotypes, despite its unusual physicochemical properties. © 2014 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-126
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 19 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank AbdulAziz Al-Suwailem, the scientists, the captain and the crew of the R/V Aegaeo for the KAUST Red Sea Expeditions in 2010 and 2011, and the Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab (CMRC) and the Biosciences Core Laboratory (BCL) at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) for their logistical and technical support. This study was supported by the SABIC Career Development Chair (US).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


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