A Guide to the Natural History of Freshwater Lake BacteriaRyan J. Newton, Stuart E. Jones, Alexander Eiler, Katherine D. McMahon, Stefan Bertilsson
- Molecular Biology
- Infectious Diseases
Freshwater bacteria are at the hub of biogeochemical cycles and control water quality in lakes. Despite this, little is known about the identity and ecology of functionally significant lake bacteria. Molecular studies have identified many abundant lake bacteria, but there is a large variation in the taxonomic or phylogenetic breadths among the methods used for this exploration. Because of this, an inconsistent and overlapping naming structure has developed for freshwater bacteria, creating a significant obstacle to identifying coherent ecological traits among these groups. A discourse that unites the field is sorely needed. Here we present a new freshwater lake phylogeny constructed from all published 16S rRNA gene sequences from lake epilimnia and propose a unifying vocabulary to discuss freshwater taxa. With this new vocabulary in place, we review the current information on the ecology, ecophysiology, and distribution of lake bacteria and highlight newly identified phylotypes. In the second part of our review, we conduct meta-analyses on the compiled data, identifying distribution patterns for bacterial phylotypes among biomes and across environmental gradients in lakes. We conclude by emphasizing the role that this review can play in providing a coherent framework for future studies.