Copper tolerance and distribution of epibiotic bacteria associated with giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera in southern California

Julia Busch, Juliana Ribeiro Nascimento, Ana Carolina Rubem Magalhães, Bas E. Dutilh, Elizabeth Dinsdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Kelp forests in southern California are important ecosystems that provide habitat and nutrition to a multitude of species. Macrocystis pyrifera and other brown algae that dominate kelp forests, produce negatively charged polysaccharides on the cell surface, which have the ability to accumulate transition metals such as copper. Kelp forests near areas with high levels of boating and other industrial activities are exposed to increased amounts of these metals, leading to increased concentrations on the algal surface. The increased concentration of transition metals creates a harsh environment for colonizing microbes altering community structure. The impact of altered bacterial populations in the kelp forest have unknown consequences that could be harmful to the health of the ecosystem. In this study we describe the community of microorganisms associated with M. pyrifera, using a culture based approach, and their increasing tolerance to the transition metal, copper, across a gradient of human activity in southern California. The results support the hypothesis that M. pyrifera forms a distinct marine microhabitat and selects for species of bacteria that are rarer in the water column, and that copper-resistant isolates are selected for in locations with elevated exposure to transition metals associated with human activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1140
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • Bacterial isolate
  • Copper tolerance
  • Kelp forest


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