Krause, Evamaria (2014): Small Changes in pH Have Direct Effects on Marine Bacterial Community Composition: A Microcosm Approach. doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.832471, Supplement to: Krause, Evamaria; Wichels, Antje; Giménez, Luis; Lunau, Mirko; Schilhabel, Markus B; Gerdts, Gunnar (2012): Small Changes in pH Have Direct Effects on Marine Bacterial Community Composition: A Microcosm Approach. PLoS ONE, 7(10), e47035, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047035
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As the atmospheric CO2 concentration rises, more CO2 will dissolve in the oceans, leading to a reduction in pH. Effects of ocean acidification on bacterial communities have mainly been studied in biologically complex systems, in which indirect effects, mediated through food web interactions, come into play. These approaches come close to nature but suffer from low replication and neglect seasonality. To comprehensively investigate direct pH effects, we conducted highly-replicated laboratory acidification experiments with the natural bacterial community from Helgoland Roads (North Sea). Seasonal variability was accounted for by repeating the experiment four times (spring, summer, autumn, winter). Three dilution approaches were used to select for different ecological strategies, i.e. fast-growing or low-nutrient adapted bacteria. The pH levels investigated were in situ seawater pH (8.15-8.22), pH 7.82 and pH 7.67, representing the present-day situation and two acidification scenarios projected for the North Sea for the year 2100. In all seasons, both automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis and 16S ribosomal amplicon pyrosequencing revealed pH-dependent community shifts for two of the dilution approaches. Bacteria susceptible to changes in pH were different members of Gammaproteobacteria, Flavobacteriaceae, Rhodobacteraceae, Campylobacteraceae and further less abundant groups. Their specific response to reduced pH was often context-dependent. Bacterial abundance was not influenced by pH. Our findings suggest that already moderate changes in pH have the potential to cause compositional shifts, depending on the community assembly and environmental factors. By identifying pH-susceptible groups, this study provides insights for more directed, in-depth community analyses in large-scale and long-term experiments.