Spatiotemporal Variation of Microbial Communities in the Ultra-Oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Markus Haber, Dalit Roth Rosenberg, Maya Lalzar, Ilia Burgsdorf, Kumar Saurav, Regina Lionheart, Yoav Lehahn, Dikla Aharonovich, Laura Gómez-Consarnau, Daniel Sher, Michael D. Krom, Laura Steindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine microbial communities vary seasonally and spatially, but these two factors are rarely addressed together. In this study, the temporal and spatial patterns of the bacterial and archaeal community were studied along a coast-to-offshore transect in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS) over six cruises, in three seasons of 2 consecutive years. Amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and transcripts was performed to determine presence and activity, respectively. The ultra-oligotrophic status of the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea was reflected in the microbial community composition dominated by oligotrophic bacterial groups such as SAR11, even at the most coastal station sampled, throughout the year. Seasons significantly affected the microbial communities, explaining more than half of the observed variability. However, the same few taxa dominated the community over the 2-year sampling period, varying only in their degree of dominance. While there was no overall effect of station location on the microbial community, the most coastal site (16 km offshore) differed significantly in community structure and activity from the three further offshore stations in early winter and summer. Our data on the microbial community compositions and their seasonality support previous notions that the EMS behaves like an oceanic gyre.

Original languageEnglish
Article number867694
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Israel Science Foundation grant (ISF #1243/16) to LS and from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF, no. 2019612 to LS) and the United States National Science Foundation (NSF, OCE1924464 to LG-C). The seasonal cruises were supported by funding from the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences (Haifa University, Israel). MH was supported by an Inter-Institutional post-doctoral fellowship from the Haifa University and a Helmsley Trust fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Haber, Roth Rosenberg, Lalzar, Burgsdorf, Saurav, Lionheart, Lehahn, Aharonovich, Gómez-Consarnau, Sher, Krom and Steindler.


  • 16S rRNA
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • SAR11
  • seasonality
  • transect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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