Bacteria are among the most abundant groups of organisms. They mediate key ecological processes. Recent molecular advances have provided greater insight into bacterial diversity as well as allowing a more thorough examination of patterns in the spatial and temporal distribution of bacteria. Thus, the study of bacterial biodiversity and biogeographical distribution has stimulated considerable interest and dispute over the last decade.
This review summarises the findings obtained from studies on the biogeography of bacterioplankton in inland waters. We examine factors and processes that may determine and maintain bacterial diversity and biogeography, and relate these to the theoretical metacommunity framework.
We conclude that the importance of local environmental factors (such as lake character) for local bacterioplankton community compositions (BCC) is much more intensively studied than the importance of regional factors, such as dispersal. Further, few attempts have been made to evaluate simultaneously the relative importance of the two types of factors for BCC. Finally, we summarise gaps in knowledge, delineate challenges and put forward possible future research directions.