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Rhythmicity of coastal marine picoeukaryotes, bacteria and archaea despite irregular environmental perturbations


Seasonality in marine microorganisms has been classically observed in phytoplankton blooms, and more recently studied at the community level in prokaryotes, but rarely investigated at the scale of individual microbial taxa. Here we test if specific marine eukaryotic phytoplankton, bacterial and archaeal taxa display yearly rhythms at a coastal site impacted by irregular environmental perturbations. Our seven-year study in the Bay of Banyuls (North Western Mediterranean Sea) shows that despite some fluctuating environmental conditions, many microbial taxa displayed significant yearly rhythms. The robust rhythmicity was found in both autotrophs (picoeukaryotes and cyanobacteria) and heterotrophic prokaryotes. Sporadic meteorological events and irregular nutrient supplies did, however, trigger the appearance of less common non-rhythmic taxa. Among the environmental parameters that were measured, the main drivers of rhythmicity were temperature and day length. Seasonal autotrophs may thus be setting the pace for rhythmic heterotrophs. Similar environmental niches may be driving seasonality as well. The observed strong association between Micromonas and SAR11, which both need thiamine precursors for growth, could be a first indication that shared nutritional niches may explain some rhythmic patterns of co-occurrence.

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We are grateful to the captain and the crew of the RV ‘Nereis II’ for their help in acquiring the samples. We thank the “Service d’Observation”, particularly Eric Maria and Paul Labatut, for their help in obtaining and processing of the samples. MT was supported by a PhD fellowship from the Sorbonne Université and the Région Bretagne. We would like to thank the ABIMS platform in Roscoff for access to bioinformatics resources. This work was supported by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche through the projects Photo-Phyto (ANR-14-CE02-0018) to FYB, and EUREKA (ANR-14-CE02-0004-01) to PEG.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Correspondence to François-Yves Bouget or Pierre E. Galand.

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