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Macrophyte Microbial Succession and Function

We are quantifying successional changes in microbial community assemblages over the course of the macrophyte life cycle, and the impact of these changes on carbon cycling and the grazer community. There are successional patterns in the visible epiphyte communities associated with seaweeds and seagrasses, with macrophytes becoming colonized by bryozoans, diatoms, and other organisms by the end of the growing season. We hypothesize that the microbial species composition also changes as the macrophyte species mature, and this likely has a direct impact on the grazer communities, and on carbon utilization in the system. 

Microbial community complexity is suspected to increase as the host seaweed or seagrass matures and become colonized by epiphytes.