|Seasonal development of a coastal microbial mat|In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, meer
Growth and activity of coastal microbial mats is strongly seasonal. The development of these mats starts in early spring and fully maturate during late summer, where after growth ceases and subsequently the mat deteriorates by erosion and decomposition in winter. Here, the composition of the microbial community of three different mats developing along the tidal gradient of the North Sea beach of the Dutch barrier island Schiermonnikoog was analysed. The 16S ribosomal RNA molecules and the associated gene were sequenced in order to obtain the active (RNA) and resident (DNA) community members, respectively. Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Bacteroidetes dominated the mats during the whole year but considerable differences among these groups were found along the tidal gradient and seasonally when observed at a finer taxonomic resolution. Richness and diversity increased during the year starting from a pioneering community that is gradually succeeded by a more diverse climax community. The initial pioneers consisted of the cold-adapted photoautotrophic cyanobacterium Nodularia sp. and potential cold adapted members of the alphaproteobacterial Loktanella genus. These pioneers were succeeded by, amongst others, cyanobacteria belonging to the genera Leptolyngbya, Lyngbya, and Phormidium. At the upper littoral (Dune site), which was characterized by an extensive salt marsh vegetation, the mats contained a distinct bacterial community that potentially contribute to or benefit from plant decay. This study reports in detail on the seasonal changes and succession of these coastal microbial mat communities and discusses the potential forces that drive these changes.