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The cyanobacterium Synechococcus is a ubiquitous, important phytoplankter across the world’s oceans. A high degree of genetic diversity exists within the marine group, which likely contributes to its global success. Over 20 clades with different distribution patterns have been identified. However, we do not fully understand the environmental factors that control clade distributions. These factors are likely to change seasonally, especially in dynamic coastal systems. To investigate how coastal Synechococcus assemblages change temporally, we assessed the diversity of Synechococcus at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) over three annual cycles with culture-dependent and independent approaches. We further investigated the abundance of both phycoerythrin (PE)-containing and phycocyanin (PC)-only Synechococcus with a flow cytometric setup that distinguishes PC-only Synechococcus from picoeukaryotes. We found that the Synechococcus assemblage at MVCO is diverse (13 different clades identified), but dominated by clade I representatives. Many clades were only isolated during late summer and fall, suggesting more favorable conditions for isolation at this time. PC-only strains from four different clades were isolated, but these cells were only detected by flow cytometry in a few samples over the time series, suggesting they are rare at this site. Within clade I, we identified four distinct subclades. The relative abundances of each subclade varied over the seasonal cycle, and the high Synechococcus cell concentration at MVCO may be maintained by the diversity found within this clade. This study highlights the need to understand how temporal aspects of the environment affect Synechococcus community structure and cell abundance.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.