Environ. Microbiol. 23 (8) 4200-4213 [2021-08-00; online 2021-06-01]
Climate change is projected to cause increased inflow of terrestrial dissolved organic matter to coastal areas in northerly regions. Estuarine bacterial community will thereby receive larger loads of organic matter and inorganic nutrients available for microbial metabolism. The composition of the bacterial community and its ecological functions may thus be affected. We studied the responses of bacterial community to inflow of terrestrial dissolved organic matter in a subarctic estuary in the northern Baltic Sea, using a 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding approach. Betaproteobacteria dominated during the spring river flush, constituting ~ 60% of the bacterial community. Bacterial diversity increased as the runoff decreased during summer, when Verrucomicrobia, Betaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria and Planctomycetes dominated the community. Network analysis revealed that a larger number of associations between bacterial populations occurred during the summer than in spring. Betaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes populations appeared to display similar correlations to environmental factors. In spring, freshly discharged organic matter favoured specialists, while in summer a mix of autochthonous and terrestrial organic matter promoted the development of generalists. Our study indicates that increased inflows of terrestrial organic matter-loaded freshwater to coastal areas would promote specialist bacteria, which in turn might enhance the transformation of terrestrial organic matter in estuarine environments.