The Western English Channel contains a persistent microbial seed bank

J. Gregory Caporaso, Konrad Paszkiewicz, Dawn Field, Rob Knight, Jack A. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Robust seasonal dynamics in microbial community composition have previously been observed in the English Channel L4 marine observatory. These could be explained either by seasonal changes in the taxa present at the L4 site, or by the continuous modulation of abundance of taxa within a persistent microbial community. To test these competing hypotheses, deep sequencing of 16S rRNA from one randomly selected time point to a depth of 10 729 927 reads was compared with an existing taxonomic survey data covering 6 years. When compared against the 6-year survey of 72 shallow sequenced time points, the deep sequenced time point maintained 95.4% of the combined shallow OTUs. Additionally, on average, 99.75%±0.06 (mean±s.d.) of the operational taxonomic units found in each shallow sequenced sample were also found in the single deep sequenced sample. This suggests that the vast majority of taxa identified in this ecosystem are always present, but just in different proportions that are predictable. Thus observed changes in community composition are actually variations in the relative abundance of taxa, not, as was previously believed, demonstrating extinction and recolonization of taxa in the ecosystem through time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1093
Number of pages5
JournalISME Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • 16S rRNA
  • bacteria
  • community
  • diversity
  • seed bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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