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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2000 Apr 1;32(2):143-155.

The microbial food web along salinity gradients.

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Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Passeig Joan de Borbó s/n, 08039, Barcelona, Spain


The microbial food web was studied along a gradient of salinity in two solar salterns used for the commercial production of salt. The different ponds in the salterns provide a wide range of ecosystems with food webs of different complexities. Abundance of prokaryotes, cell volume, prokaryotic heterotrophic production, chlorophyll a, abundance of heterotrophic flagellates, ciliates and phytoplankton were determined in several ponds in each saltern. Increases in salinity resulted in a progressive reduction in the abundance and number of different groups of eukaryotic microorganisms present, but an increase in biomass of prokaryotes. Maximal activity of both phyto- and bacterioplankton was found at a salinity of around 100 per thousand, where there was also a maximum in chlorophyll a concentration. Growth rates of heterotrophic prokaryotes decreased with increasing salinity. Bacterivory disappeared above 250 per thousand salinity, whereas other loss factors such as viral lysis appeared to be of minor importance throughout the gradient [Guixa-Boixereu et al. (1996) Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 11, 215-227].

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