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Microb Ecol. 2003 Feb;45(2):173-82. Epub 2003 Jan 28.

Antagonism between bacteria and fungi on decomposing aquatic plant litter.

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Department of Limnology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Bacterial and fungal decomposers of aquatic plant litter may exhibit either synergistic or antagonistic interactions, which are likely to influence microbial growth as well as the decomposition of litter and, eventually, the carbon metabolism of aquatic systems. To elucidate such interactions, we inoculated decomposing Phragmites culms in microcosms with fungal isolates and with natural communities of bacteria and fungi in different combinations. The development of fungal and bacterial biomass and the carbon dynamics were studied during several months of degradation. The results show a bilateral antagonistic relationship between bacteria and fungi. After 3 months, fungal biomass accumulation was approximately 12 times higher in the absence than in the presence of bacteria. Bacterial biomass accumulation was about double in the absence of fungi compared to when fungi were present. Similar interactions developed between a natural assemblage of bacteria and five different fungal strains isolated from Phragmites litter (three identified hyphomycetes and two unidentified strains). Despite the great difference in biomass development between the treatments, the carbon metabolism was similar regardless of whether fungi and/or bacteria were present alone or in coexistence. We suggest that the antagonism between bacteria and fungi is an important controlling factor for microbial colonization and growth on aquatic plant litter.

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