Arctic cyanobacterial mat community diversity decreases with latitude across the Canadian Arctic

Patrick Hooper, D Bass, Edward Feil, W.F. Vincent, C. Lovejoy, C.J. Owen, S.L. Tsola, A.D. Jungblut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyanobacterial mats are commonly reported as hotspots of microbial diversity across polar environments. These thick, multilayered microbial communities provide a refuge from extreme environmental conditions, with many species able to grow and coexist despite the low allochthonous nutrient inputs. The visibly dominant phototrophic biomass is dependent on internal nutrient recycling by heterotrophic organisms within the mats; however, the specific contribution of heterotrophic protists remains little explored. In this study, mat community diversity was examined along a latitudinal gradient (55–83 N), spanning subarctic taiga, tundra, polar desert, and the High Arctic ice shelves. The prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities were targeted, respectively, by V4 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and V9 18S rRNA gene amplicon high-throughput sequencing. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic richness decreased, in tandem with decreasing temperatures and shorter seasons of light availability, from the subarctic to the High Arctic. Taxonomy-based annotation of the protist community revealed diverse phototrophic, mixotrophic, and heterotrophic genera in all mat communities, with fewer parasitic taxa in High Arctic communities. Co-occurrence network analysis identified greater heterogeneity in eukaryotic than prokaryotic community structure among cyanobacterial mats across the Canadian Arctic. Our findings highlight the sensitivity of microbial eukaryotes to environmental gradients across northern high latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiae067
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number6
Early online date23 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2024


  • 16S rRNA
  • 18S rRNA
  • Arctic
  • aquatic ecosystems
  • microbial mats
  • protists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Arctic cyanobacterial mat community diversity decreases with latitude across the Canadian Arctic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this