May 23, 2013


Large-scale spatial patterns of bacteria across Lake Erie indicate adaptive role of microbial communities

Ann Arbor, MI — While bacteria living in the lake bottom are critical in nutrient transfer, as well as the transformation of organic pollutants and heavy metals, studies on large-scale patterns of their distribution throughout Lake Erie are generally lacking. DNA analyses of sediments from Lake Erie allowed identification of bacteria from nearshore sites in the Eastern, Central, and Western basins, as well as the dead zone of the Central basin. Results indicated bacterial communities are adapted to differences in local geochemistry and levels of environmental contaminants. River inputs into the Central and Western basins may have changed bacterial communities, selecting taxa capable of metabolizing complex organic matter and contaminants. Furthermore, low oxygen levels in the dead zone selected for taxa with relatively flexible oxygen demands. This study demonstrates the importance of evolutionary history and local environmental attributes in shaping large-scale spatial patterns of Lake Erie’s microbial ecology.

Original Publication Information

Results of this study, "Spatial patterns of bacterial community composition within Lake Erie sediments" are reported by Juan L. Bouzat, Matthew J. Hoostal, and Torey Looft in Volume 39, No. 2, of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, published by Elsevier, 2013.


For more information about the study, contact Dr. Juan L. Bouzat or Dr. Matt J. Hoostal, Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; or; (419) 372-9240.

For information about the Journal of Great Lakes Research, contact Stephanie Guildford, Scientific Co-Editor, Large Lakes Observatory, University Minnesota Duluth, 2205 East Fifth Street, Duluth, Minnesota, 55812-2401;; (218) 726-8064.

Since 1967, IAGLR has served as the focal point for compiling and disseminating multidisciplinary knowledge on North America's Laurentian Great Lakes and other large lakes of the world and their watersheds. In part, IAGLR communicates this knowledge through publication of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, available to members in print and electronic form. A searchable archive of the journal is available online and includes the abstracts of articles from the journal's inception in 1975 through the most recent issue. In addition, complete articles are available to members who have signed up for an electronic subscription.