Trophic interactions between marine phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria are at the base of the biogeochemical carbon cycling in the ocean. However, the specific interactions taking place between phytoplankton and bacterial taxa remain largely unexplored, particularly out of phytoplankton blooming events. Here, we applied network analysis to a 3.5-year time-series dataset to assess the specific associations between different phytoplankton and bacterial taxa along the seasonal scale, distinguishing between free-living and particle-attached bacteria. Using a newly developed network post-analysis technique we removed bacteria-phytoplankton correlations that were primarily driven by environmental parameters, to detect potential biotic interactions. Our results indicate that phytoplankton dynamics may be a strong driver of the inter-annual variability in bacterial community composition. We found the highest abundance of specific bacteria-phytoplankton associations in the particle-attached fraction, indicating a tighter bacteria-phytoplankton association than in the free-living fraction. In the particle-associated fraction we unveiled novel potential associations such as the one between Planctomycetes taxa and the diatom Leptocylindrus spp. Consistent correlations were also found between free-living bacterial taxa and different diatoms, including novel associations such as those between SAR11 with Naviculales diatom order, and between Actinobacteria and Cylindrotheca spp. We also confirmed previously known associations between Rhodobacteraceae and Thalassiosira spp. Our results expand our view on bacteria-phytoplankton associations, suggesting that taxa-specific interactions may largely impact the seasonal dynamics of heterotrophic bacterial communities.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-09-14
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Basque Government for supporting NA-G’s Ph.D. fellowship the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) for supporting LA-S’s Juan de la Cierva and Ramón y Cajal fellowship (RYC-2012-11404) and the COMITE project (CTM-2010–15840). We are very thankful to all the staff of the R/V “José de Rioja” for their help during the sampling collection. Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) (CTM-2010–15840).