Diversity of Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group archaea in freshwater karstic lakes and their segregation between planktonic and sediment habitats

The Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group (MCG) is an archaeal lineage whose members are widespread and abundant in marine sediments. MCG archaea have also been consistently found in stratified euxinic lakes. In this work, we have studied archaeal communities in three karstic lakes to reveal potential habitat segregation of MCG subgroups between planktonic and sediment compartments. In the studied lakes, archaeal assemblages were strikingly similar to those of the marine subsurface with predominance of uncultured Halobacteria in the plankton and Thermoplasmata and MCG in anoxic, organic-rich sediments. Multivariate analyses identified sulphide and dissolved organic carbon as predictor variables of archaeal community composition. Quantification of MCG using a newly designed qPCR primer pair that improves coverage for MCG subgroups prevalent in the studied lakes revealed conspicuous populations in both the plankton and the sediment. Subgroups MCG-5a and -5b appear as planktonic specialists thriving in euxinic bottom waters, while subgroup MCG-6 emerges as a generalist group able to cope with varying reducing conditions. Besides, comparison of DNA- and cDNA-based pyrotag libraries revealed that rare subgroups in DNA libraries, i.e. MCG-15, were prevalent in cDNA-based datasets, suggesting that euxinic, organic-rich sediments of karstic lakes provide optimal niches for the activity of some specialized MCG subgroups ​
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