A Vigorous Specialized Microbial Food Web in the Suboxic Waters of a Shallow Subtropical Coastal Lagoon

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Journal Article
Microbial Ecology, 2012, 64 (2), pp. 334 - 345
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To examine the extent of the microbial food web in suboxic waters of a shallow subtropical coastal lagoon, the density and biomass of bacteria and protozooplankton were quantified under different dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. In addition, bottom waters of a stratified site were compared with bottom waters of a homogeneous site under periods of high and low biological oxygen production/consumption in the lagoon. At the stratified site, microbial biomass decreased with oxygen decline, from oxia to suboxia, with a recovery of the initial total biomass after a 20-day period of persistent suboxia. A peak in density and biomass of purple sulfur bacteria (PSB) (90 μg C L-1) occurred in the suboxic waters 20 days prior to the peak in biomass of ciliates >50 μm (Loxophyllum sp. of 150 μm) (160 μg C L-1), demonstrating a top down biomass control. Ciliates >50 μm were positively correlated with PSB and bacteriochlorophyll a (photosynthetic pigment of PSB). Total protozoan biomass reached 430 μg C L-1 in the suboxic waters of the stratified site, with ciliates >50 μm accounting for 90% of the total ciliate biomass and of 55 % of biomass of protozoa. At the homogeneous site, total protozoan biomass was only 66 μg C L-1, where flagellates and ciliates <25 μm were the dominant microorganisms. Therefore, as light is available for primary producers in the bottom waters of shallow stratified coastal lagoons or estuaries, one can expect that high primary production of PSB may favor a specialized microbial food web composed by larger microorganisms, accessible to zooplankton that tolerate low DO levels. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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