Microbial Ecology

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 10–21 | Cite as

Variation of Synechococcus Pigment Genetic Diversity Along Two Turbidity Gradients in the China Seas

  • Xiaomin Xia
  • Hongbin LiuEmail author
  • Donghan Choi
  • Jae Hoon Noh
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


Synechococcus are important and widely distributed picocyanobacteria that encompass a high pigment diversity. In this study, we developed a primer set (peBF/peAR) for amplifying the cpeBA operon sequence from Synechococcus genomic DNA to study Synechococcus pigment diversity along two turbidity gradients in the China seas. Our data revealed that all previously reported pigment types occurred in the South (SCS) and East (ECS) China Seas. In addition, a novel pigment genetic type (type 3f), represented by the high phycourobilin Synechococcus sp. strain KORDI-100 (Exc495:545 = 2.35), was detected. This pigment genetic type differs from the 3c/3d types not only for a very high PUB/PEB ratio but also for a different intergenic spacer sequence and gene organization of the phycobilisome. Synechococcus of different pigment types exhibited clear niche differentiation. Type 2 dominated in the coastal waters, whereas type 3c/3d and 3f were predominant in oceanic waters of the SCS in summer. In the ECS, however, type 3a was the major pigment type throughout the transect. We suggest that in marine environment, various pigment types often co-occur but with one type dominant and PUB/PEB ratio is related to geographic distribution of Synechococcus pigment types. The two marginal seas of China have markedly different Synechococcus pigment compositions.


cpeBA operon China seas Synechococcus pigment type Clone library 



We acknowledge the support of the following research grants: General Research Fund (661912, 661813) by Hong Kong Research Grants Council, the National Key Scientific Research Projects of China (2015CB954003), and Natural Science Foundation of China (41330961). We thank Candy Lee for providing Synechococcus strains.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Life ScienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Marine Ecosystem and Biological Research CenterKorea Institute of Ocean Science and TechnologyAnsanRepublic of Korea

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