The dynamics of biofilm bacterial communities is driven by flow wax and wane in a temporary stream

Biofilm communities are exposed to long periods of desiccation in temporary streams. We investigated how water flow intermittency affected the bacterial community structure colonizing three different streambed compartments in a Mediterranean stream. Massive parallel sequencing revealed different bacterial communities in biofilms from sand sediments and cobbles. Bacterial communities were similar (62% of shared operational taxonomic units) in the epipsammic and hyporheic biofilms, and more diverse than those in the epilithic biofilms. The non-flow phase caused a decrease of bacterial diversity in the biofilms, when communities included only bacterial taxa assumed to be adapted to water stress. The most sensitive bacterial communities to flow intermittency were in the epilithic, where the exposure to physical stress was the highest. In sand sediments a wide group of bacterial taxa was tolerant to desiccation. During non-flow the proliferation of opportunistic taxa in the superficial compartments evidenced the biological link with the terrestrial environment. Bacterial communities better tolerate rewetting than desiccation, since a major number of taxa tolerant to rewetting occurred in all biofilms. Overall, bacterial communities in sandy compartments showed higher resistance to flow intermittency than those in epilithic biofilms ​
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