The spatio-temporal distribution of phototrophic communities of the hypersaline photosynthetic Camarguc microbial mat (Salins-de-Giraud, France) was investigated over a diel cycle by combining microscopic and molecular approaches. Microcoleus chthonoplastes and Halomicronema excentricum, the dominant cyanobacteria of this oxyphotrophic community, were observed with confocal laser scanning microscopy to determine their biomass profiles. Both bacteria have similar vertical distributions, varying from a homogenous distribution through the mat during the night, to a specific localization in the upper oxic zone of 1.5 mm during the day. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism of PCR-amplified pufM gene fragments revealed three groups of anoxyphototrophic populations, which varied according to the two opposite periods of the diel cycle under study. They were either specifically detected in only one period, or homogenously distributed through the mat in all periods, or located in specific zones of the mat depending on the period considered. Oxygen concentrations, pH and biomass of the major filamentous cyanobacteria were the determinative factors in the distribution of these anoxyphototrophs across the mat. Thus, vertical migration, cell-cell aggregate formation and metabolic switches were the most evident defence of the photosynthetic populations against the adverse effects of sulfide and oxygen fluxes during a diel cycle. © 2006 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Diel cycle
- Hypersaline mat