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FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 2002      The long-term effects of UV exclusion on the microbial composition and photosynthetic competence of bacteria in hot-spring microbial mats
Tracy B. Norris, Timothy R. McDermott, Richard W. Castenholz
FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 2002

The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the long-term exclusion of ultraviolet (UV) radiation (UVR) from hotspring microbial mats resulted in an alteration of microbial composition, such as a shift to more UV-sensitive species. Over a 1-3-month period, microbial mats in two alkaline geothermal streams in Yellowstone National Park were covered with filters that excluded or transmitted UVR. Over some, 25% transmission neutral density screens were also used. In the 40-47°C range, there were no apparent changes in community composition during the summer with or without high or low UVR, as assessed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiles after polymerase chain reaction amplification of 16S-rRNA genes with general Bacteria and Cyanobacteria primers. Major bands were purified from the DGGE gels and sequenced. Only one of the cyanobacterial sequences matched known strains in the database; the others appear to be unique. Although the bacterial composition of these communities was apparently stable, surface layers of cyanobacteria protected from UVR were not as competent photosynthetically as those that had been maintained under UVR. This decrease in competence was expressed as a loss of the ability to perform at a maximum rate under full UVR plus visible irradiance. However, even +UV-maintained cyanobacteria performed better when UVR was excluded during the photosynthesis tests. It is probable that the large differences in photosynthetic competence observed reflect changes at the level of gene expression in the dominant species rather than changes in species composition.

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