Appl Environ Microbiol 86(10) (May 5 2020)
Most freshwater bacterial communities are characterized by a few dominant taxa that are often ubiquitous across freshwater biomes worldwide. Our understanding of the genomic diversity within these taxonomic groups is limited to a subset of taxa. Here, we investigated the genomic diversity that enables Limnohabitans, a freshwater genus key in funneling carbon from primary producers to higher trophic levels, to achieve abundance and ubiquity. We reconstructed eight putative Limnohabitans metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from stations located along broad environmental gradients existing in Lake Michigan, part of Earth’s largest surface freshwater system. De novo strain inference analysis resolved a total of 23 strains from these MAGs, which strongly partitioned into two habitat-specific clusters with cooccurring strains from different lineages. The largest number of strains belonged to the abundant LimB lineage, for which robust in situ strain delineation had not previously been achieved. Our data show that temperature and nutrient levels may be important environmental parameters associated with microdiversification within the Limnohabitans genus. In addition, strains predominant in low- and high-phosphorus conditions had larger genomic divergence than strains abundant under different temperatures. Comparative genomics and gene expression analysis yielded evidence for the ability of LimB populations to exhibit cellular motility and chemotaxis, a phenotype not yet associated with available Limnohabitans isolates. Our findings broaden historical marker gene-based surveys of Limnohabitans microdiversification and provide in situ evidence of genome diversity and its functional implications across freshwater gradients.IMPORTANCE Limnohabitans is an important bacterial taxonomic group for cycling carbon in freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Here, we examined the genomic diversity of different Limnohabitans lineages. We focused on the LimB lineage of this genus, which is globally distributed and often abundant, and its abundance has shown to be largely invariant to environmental change. Our data show that the LimB lineage is actually comprised of multiple cooccurring populations for which the composition and genomic characteristics are associated with variations in temperature and nutrient levels. The gene expression profiles of this lineage suggest the importance of chemotaxis and motility, traits that had not yet been associated with the Limnohabitans genus, in adapting to environmental conditions.