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Webb, SJ, Rabsattt T, Erazo N, Bowman JS.  2019.  Impacts of Zostera eelgrasses on microbial community structure in San Diego coastal waters. Elementa-Science of the Anthropocene. 7   10.1525/elementa.350   AbstractWebsite

Marine eelgrasses are influential to their surrounding environments through their many ecosystem services, ranging from the provisioning of food and shelter for marine life to serving as a natural defense against pollution and pathogenic bacteria. In the marine waters of San Diego, CA, USA, eelgrass beds comprised of Zostera spp. are an integral part of the coastal ecosystem. To evaluate the impact of eelgrass on bacterial and archaeal community structure we collected water samples in San Diego Bay and sequenced the 16S rRNA gene from paired eelgrass-present and eelgrass-absent sites. To test the hypothesis that microbial community structure is influenced by the presence of eelgrass we applied mixed effects models to these data and to bacterial abundance data derived by flow cytometry. This approach allowed us to identify specific microbial taxa that were differentially present at eelgrass-present and eelgrass-absent sites. Principal coordinate analysis organized the samples by location (inner vs. outer bay) along the first axis, where the first two axes accounted for a 90.8% of the variance in microbial community structure among the samples. Differentially present bacterial taxa included members of the order Rickettsiales, family Flavobacteriaceae, genus Tenacibaculum and members of the order Pseudomonadales. These findings constitute a unique look into the microbial composition of San Diego Bay and examine how eelgrasses contribute to marine ecosystem health, e.g., by supporting specific microbial communities and by filtering and trapping potentially harmful bacteria to the benefit of marine organisms.