This article is part of the Research Topic Systems biology and ecology of microbial mat communities

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Microbiol., 13 November 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00323

The epsomitic phototrophic microbial mat of Hot Lake, Washington: community structural responses to seasonal cycling

  • 1Biological Sciences Division, Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 2Chemical, Biological, and Physical Sciences Division, National Security Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 3Scientific Resources Division, William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 4Lawrence Berkelely National Laboratory, Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
  • 5The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

Phototrophic microbial mats are compact ecosystems composed of highly interactive organisms in which energy and element cycling take place over millimeter-to-centimeter-scale distances. Although microbial mats are common in hypersaline environments, they have not been extensively characterized in systems dominated by divalent ions. Hot Lake is a meromictic, epsomitic lake that occupies a small, endorheic basin in north-central Washington. The lake harbors a benthic, phototrophic mat that assembles each spring, disassembles each fall, and is subject to greater than tenfold variation in salinity (primarily Mg2+ and SO2−4) and irradiation over the annual cycle. We examined spatiotemporal variation in the mat community at five time points throughout the annual cycle with respect to prevailing physicochemical parameters by amplicon sequencing of the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene coupled to near-full-length 16S RNA clone sequences. The composition of these microbial communities was relatively stable over the seasonal cycle and included dominant populations of Cyanobacteria, primarily a group IV cyanobacterium (Leptolyngbya), and Alphaproteobacteria (specifically, members of Rhodobacteraceae and Geminicoccus). Members of Gammaproteobacteria (e.g., Thioalkalivibrio and Halochromatium) and Deltaproteobacteria (e.g., Desulfofustis) that are likely to be involved in sulfur cycling peaked in summer and declined significantly by mid-fall, mirroring larger trends in mat community richness and evenness. Phylogenetic turnover analysis of abundant phylotypes employing environmental metadata suggests that seasonal shifts in light variability exert a dominant influence on the composition of Hot Lake microbial mat communities. The seasonal development and organization of these structured microbial mats provide opportunities for analysis of the temporal and physical dynamics that feed back to community function.

Keywords: Hot Lake, phototrophic microbial mats, 16S tag sequencing, phylogenetic turnover, microbial diversity, seasonal cycling, community assembly, magnesium sulfate

Citation: Lindemann SR, Moran JJ, Stegen JC, Renslow RS, Hutchison JR, Cole JK, Dohnalkova AC, Tremblay J, Singh K, Malfatti SA, Chen F, Tringe SG, Beyenal H and Fredrickson JK (2013) The epsomitic phototrophic microbial mat of Hot Lake, Washington: community structural responses to seasonal cycling. Front. Microbiol. 4:323. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00323

Received: 23 July 2013; Accepted: 14 October 2013;
Published online: 13 November 2013.

Edited by:

William P. Inskeep, Montana State University, USA

Reviewed by:

William P. Inskeep, Montana State University, USA
Min Chen, University of Sydney, Australia

Copyright © 2013 Lindemann, Moran, Stegen, Renslow, Hutchison, Cole, Dohnalkova, Tremblay, Singh, Malfatti, Chen, Tringe, Beyenal and Fredrickson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: James K. Fredrickson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 902 Battelle Boulevard, MSIN: J4-16, PO Box 999, Richland, WA 99352, USA e-mail:

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