Seasonal variations of the composition of microbial biofilms in sandy tidal flats: Focus of fatty acids, pigments and exopolymers

Abstract : Biofilms, or microbial mats, are common associations of microorganisms in tidal flats; they generally consist of a large diversity of organisms embedded in a matrix of Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS). These molecules are mainly composed of carbohydrates and proteins, but their detailed monomer compositions and seasonal variations are currently unknown. Yet this composition determines the numerous roles of biofilms in these systems. This study investigated the changes in composition of carbohydrates in intertidal microbial mats over a year to decipher seasonal variations in biofilms and in varying hydrodynamic conditions. This work also aimed to assess how these compositions are related to microbial assemblages. In this context, natural biofilms whose development was influenced or not by artificial structures mimicking polychaete tubes were sampled monthly for over a year in intertidal flats of the Chausey archipelago. Biofilms were compared through the analysis of their fatty acid and pigment contents, and the monosaccharide composition of their EPS carbohydrates. Carbohydrates from both colloidal and bound EPS contained mainly glucose and, to a lower extent, galactose and mannose but they showed significant differences in their detailed monosaccharide compositions. These two fractions displayed different seasonal evolution, even if glucose accumulated in both fractions in summer; bound EPS only were affected by artificial biogenic structures. Sediment composition in fatty acids and pigments showed that microbial communities were dominated by diatoms and heterotrophic bacteria. Their relative proportions, as well as those of other groups like cryptophytes, changed between times and treatments. The changes in EPS composition were not fully explained by modifications of microbial assemblages but also depended on the processes taking place in sediments and on environmental conditions. These variations of EPS compositions are likely to alter different ecosystem processes such as biostabilisation or pollutants trapping.
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Claire Passarelli, Tarik Meziane, Najet Thiney, Dominique Boeuf, Bruno Jesus, et al.. Seasonal variations of the composition of microbial biofilms in sandy tidal flats: Focus of fatty acids, pigments and exopolymers. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2015, 153, pp.29-37. ⟨10.1016/j.ecss.2014.11.013⟩. ⟨hal-01097244⟩

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