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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Feb;63(2):596-601.

Contrasting bacterial strategies to coexist with a flagellate predator in an experimental microbial assemblage.

Abstract

We studied predator-induced changes within a slowly growing mixed microbial assemblage that was sustained by algal exudates in a continuous cultivation system. In situ hybridization with fluorescent monolabeled oligonucleotide probes was used for a tentative community analysis. This method also allowed us to quantify the proportions of predators with ingested bacteria of different taxonomic groups. In addition, we determined grazing rates on bacteria with fluorescently labelled prey. Bacteria belonging to the alpha and beta subdivisions of the phylum Proteobacteria ((alpha)- and (beta)-Proteobacteria, respectively) showed very different responses to the addition of a bacterivorous flagellate, Bodo saltans. Within one day, filamentous protist-inedible bacteria developed; these belonged to the (beta)-Proteobacteria and constituted between 8.7 and 34% of bacteria from this subgroup. Total abundance of (beta)-Proteobacteria decreased from 3.05 x 10(sup6) to 0.23 x 10(sup6) cells ml(sup-1), and estimated cell division rates were low. Other morphologically inconspicuous protist-edible bacteria belonging to the (alpha)-Proteobacteria were found to respond to predation by an increase in growth rate. Although these bacteria were heavily grazed upon, as on average >85% of flagellate cells had ingested (alpha)-Proteobacteria, they numerically dominated after the addition of B. saltans (mean, 1.35 x 10(sup6) cells ml(sup-1)). It was thus mainly those fast-dividing strains of (alpha)-Proteobacteria that supported the growth of the flagellate population. We conclude that bacteria in mixed assemblages can adopt at least two distinct strategies as a reaction to intense flagellate predation: to outgrow predation pressure or to develop inedible, inactive filaments. Since these strategies occurred within 24 h after the addition of the flagellate, we hypothesize that chemical stimuli released by the predator may have triggered bacterial responses.

PMID:
16535516
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC1389522
Free PMC Article
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