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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Apr;63(4):1367-74.

Population structure and physiological changes within a hot spring microbial mat community following disturbance.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Montana State University, Bozeman 59717, USA.


The influence of disturbance on a hot spring cyanobacterial mat community was investigated by physically removing the top 3.0 mm, which included the entire cyanobacterial layer. Changes in 16S rRNA-defined populations were monitored by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene segments. Some previously absent cyanobacterial populations colonized the disturbed areas, while some populations which were present before the disturbance remained absent for up to 40 days. Changes in physiological activity were measured by oxygen microelectrode analyses and by 14CO2 incorporation into cyanobacterial molecular components. These investigations indicated substantial differences between the disturbed and undisturbed mats, including an unexplained light-induced oxygen consumption in the freshly exposed mat, increased carbon partitioning by phototrophs into growth-related macromolecules, bimodal vertical photosynthesis profiles, and delayed recovery of respiration relative to photosynthesis.

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