Planktonic cyanobacteria belonging to the genus Synechococcus are ubiquitously distributed in marine and fresh waters, substantially contributing to total carbon fixation on a global scale. While their ecological relevance is acknowledged, increasing resolution in molecular techniques allows disentangling cyanobacteria's role at the micro-scale, where complex microbial interactions may drive the overall community assembly. The interplay between phylogenetically different Synechococcus clades and their associated bacterial communities can affect their ecological fate and susceptibility to protistan predation. In this study, we experimentally promoted different levels of ecological interaction by mixing two Synechococcus ribotypes (MW101C3 and LL) and their associated bacteria, with and without a nanoflagellate grazer (Poterioochromonas sp.) in laboratory cultures. The beta-diversity of the Synechococcus associated microbiome in laboratory cultures indicated that the presence of the LL ribotype was the main factor determining community composition changes (41% of total variance), and prevailed over the effect of protistan predation (18% of total variance). Our outcomes also showed that species coexistence and predation may promote microbial diversity, thus highlighting the underrated ecological relevance of such micro-scale factors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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