Microbial Ecology

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 64–73 | Cite as

Microbial Community Structure and Function Decoupling Across a Phosphorus Gradient in Streams

  • Erick S. LeBrun
  • Ryan S. King
  • Jeffrey A. Back
  • Sanghoon KangEmail author
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


Phosphorus (P) is a key biological element with important and unique biogeochemical cycling in natural ecosystems. Anthropogenic phosphorus inputs have been shown to greatly affect natural ecosystems, and this has been shown to be especially true of freshwater systems. While the importance of microbial communities in the P cycle is widely accepted, the role, composition, and relationship to P of these communities in freshwater systems still hold many secrets. Here, we investigated combined bacterial and archaeal communities utilizing 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequencing and computationally predicted functional metagenomes (PFMs) in 25 streams representing a strong P gradient. We discovered that 16S rRNA community structure and PFMs demonstrate a degree of decoupling between structure and function in the system. While we found that total phosphorus (TP) was correlated to the structure and functional capability of bacterial and archaeal communities in the system, turbidity had a stronger, but largely independent, correlation. At TP levels of approximately 55 μg/L, we see sharp differences in the abundance of numerous ecologically important taxa related to vegetation, agriculture, sediment, and other ecosystem inhabitants.


Phosphorus Community function Freshwater Microbial communities MiSeq Turbidity 



The authors thank Morgan Bettcher, Stephen Cook, Stephen Elser, Katherine Hooker, Lauren Housley, and Caleb Robbins for their help in collecting field samples. We also thank Owen Lind and J. Thad Scott for assistance with internal review. We acknowledge the research support by Baylor University Office of Research and Baylor University Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement of Data Availability

Sequence data that support the findings of this study have been deposited in GenBank with the BioProject accession code PRJNA350288. The environmental data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Supplementary material

248_2017_1039_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (524 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 523 kb)
248_2017_1039_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (88 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 88 kb)
248_2017_1039_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (79 kb)
ESM 3 (PDF 78 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems ResearchBaylor UniversityWacoUSA

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