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Seasonal patterns in microbial communities inhabiting the hot springs of Tengchong, Yunnan Province, China

Seasonal patterns in microbial communities inhabiting the hot springs of Tengchong, Yunnan Province, China

Studies focusing on seasonal dynamics of microbial communities in terrestrial and marine environments are common; however, little is known about seasonal dynamics in high-temperature environments. Thus, our objective was to document the seasonal dynamics of both the physicochemical conditions and the microbial communities inhabiting hot springs in Tengchong County, Yunnan Province, China. The PhyloChip microarray detected 4882 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) within 79 bacterial phylum-level groups and 113 OTUs within 20 archaeal phylum-level groups, which are additional 54 bacterial phyla and 11 archaeal phyla to those that were previously described using pyrosequencing. Monsoon samples (June 2011) showed increased concentrations of potassium, total organic carbon, ammonium, calcium, sodium and total nitrogen, and decreased ferrous iron relative to the dry season (January 2011). At the same time, the highly ordered microbial communities present in January gave way to poorly ordered communities in June, characterized by higher richness of Bacteria, including microbes related to mesophiles. These seasonal changes in geochemistry and community structure are likely due to high rainfall influx during the monsoon season and indicate that seasonal dynamics occurs in high-temperature environments experiencing significant changes in seasonal recharge. Thus, geothermal environments are not isolated from the surrounding environment and seasonality affects microbial ecology.

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