Latitudinal and Vertical Variation of Synechococcus Assemblage Composition Along 170° W Transect From the South Pacific to the Arctic Ocean

  • Xiaomin Xia
  • Shunyuan Cheung
  • Hisashi Endo
  • Koji SuzukiEmail author
  • Hongbin LiuEmail author
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


Synechococcus is one of the most widely distributed and abundant picocyanobacteria in the global oceans. Although latitudinal variation of Synechococcus assemblage in marine surface waters has been observed, few studies compared Synechococcus assemblage composition in surface and subsurface waters at the basin scale. Here, we report marine Synechococcus diversity in the surface and deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) layers along 170° W from the South Pacific to the Arctic Ocean in summer. Along the transect, spatial niche partitioning of Synechococcus lineages in the surface waters was clearly observed. Species richness of surface Synechococcus assemblage was positively correlated with water temperature. Clade CRD1 was dominant in the areas (15° S–10° N and 35–40° N) associated with upwelling, and there were 3 different subclades with distinct distribution. CRD1-A was restricted in the North Equatorial Current (5–10° N), CRD1-B dominated in the equatorial upwelling region (15° S–0.17° N), and CRD1-C was only distributed in the North Pacific Current (35–40° N). Similarities between the Synechococcus assemblages in the surface and DCM layers were high at the upwelling regions and areas where the mixed layer was deep, while low in the Subtropical Gyres with strong stratification. Clade I, CRD1-B, and CRD1-C were major Synechococcus lineages in the DCM layer. In particular, clade I, which is composed of 7 subclades with distinct thermal niches, was widely distributed in the DCM layer. Overall, our results provide new insights into not only the latitudinal distribution of Synechococcus assemblages, but also their vertical variation in the central Pacific.


Horizontal and vertical variations Synechococcus assemblage richness CRD1 Clade I Central Pacific Ocean 



We wish to thank the captain, officers, and crew of the R/V Hakuho Maru for their tremendous assistance during the cruises. We are grateful to Drs. Koji Sugie and Jun Nishioka for the field sampling and nutrient analysis, respectively. This study was conducted within the framework of the JST-CREST program “Establishment of core technology for the preservation of marine diversity and ecosystems”.

Funding Information

The JST-CREST Program (JPMJCR11A5), JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (#24121004), Research Grant Council of Hong Kong (16128416 and 16101917), and the National Key Scientific Research Project (2015CB954003) sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC partly funded this study. This work was also supported by CAS Pioneer Hundred Talents Program and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanography, CAS for the project “Different niches of Synechococcus ecotypes (50603-64)”.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tropical Marine Bio-Resources and Ecology, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Division of Life ScienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido University/JST-CRESTSapporoJapan
  4. 4.Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical ResearchKyoto UniversityUjiJapan

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