Marine biofilms constitute a bank of hidden microbial diversity and functional potential

Weipeng Zhang, Wei Ding, Yong-Xin Li, Chunkit Tam, Salim Bougouffa, Ruojun Wang, Bite Pei, Hoyin Chiang, Pokman Leung, Yanhong Lu, Jin Sun, He Fu, Vladimir B. Bajic, Hongbin Liu, Nicole S. Webster, Pei-Yuan Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Recent big data analyses have illuminated marine microbial diversity from a global perspective, focusing on planktonic microorganisms. Here, we analyze 2.5 terabases of newly sequenced datasets and the Tara Oceans metagenomes to study the diversity of biofilm-forming marine microorganisms. We identify more than 7,300 biofilm-forming ‘species’ that are undetected in seawater analyses, increasing the known microbial diversity in the oceans by more than 20%, and provide evidence for differentiation across oceanic niches. Generation of a gene distribution profile reveals a functional core across the biofilms, comprised of genes from a variety of microbial phyla that may play roles in stress responses and microbe-microbe interactions. Analysis of 479 genomes reconstructed from the biofilm metagenomes reveals novel biosynthetic gene clusters and CRISPR-Cas systems. Our data highlight the previously underestimated ocean microbial diversity, and allow mining novel microbial lineages and gene resources.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2019


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