The distribution of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in the Chesapeake Bay was investigated using fingerprints from a nifH microarray comprised of 706 60-mer oligonucleotide nifH probes representing cultivated organisms and environmental clones from different nifH clusters. Diverse nifH targets, amplified from samples using degenerate nifH primers, were detected in water column and sediment samples collected in April and October, 2001-2002. Total nifH richness and diversity (Simpson's and Shannon indices) were highest at the most riverine, oligohaline North Bay station. In most samples, the highest diversity was in nifH Cluster 3, which includes many anaerobes, while Cluster 1 (α-, β- γ- Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria) targets had the greatest microarray signal intensities. In a multidimensional scaling analysis, deep water communities from April and October were similar within each of the sampling sites, while the surface communities had more variability. Diazotroph communities in the water column in the North Bay were distinct from the Mid- and South Bay communities, and there was a gradual change in sediment diazotroph assemblages from the North to the South Bay. Diazotrophic assemblages from the majority of the water column samples from the Mid- and South Bay clustered with the sediment assemblage in Mid-Bay. Dissolved inorganic nitrogen, salinity, dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic phosphorus had a significant relationship with the diazotrophic bacterioplankton community. Higher diversity in the freshwater end of the system may reflect variability in disturbance rates and environmental conditions such as forms and concentrations of organic matter, nutrients and oxygen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics