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Microb Ecol. 2005 Nov;50(4):557-69. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Effects of viruses and predators on prokaryotic community composition.

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Laboratoire de Biologie des Protistes UMR CNRS 6023, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand II, 63177, Aubière, France.


Dialysis bags were used to examine the impact of predation and viral lysis on prokaryotic community composition (PCC) over a 5-day experiment in the oligomesotrophic Lake Pavin (France). The impact of the different predator communities (protists and metazoans) of prokaryotes was estimated by water fractionation (<5 microm: treatment filtered on 5 microm, without ciliates and metazoans; UNF: unfiltered treatment with all planktonic communities). Enrichments of natural viruses (<1.2 microm: with a natural virus concentration; <1.2 mum V and VV: with enrichment leading to a double or triple concentration of viruses, respectively) were used to indirectly assess the control of virioplankton. Viral activity was estimated from the frequency of visibly infected cells (FVIC). PCC was determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). In this study, PCC was affected by the eukaryote communities (especially flagellates), and viruses to a lesser extent. Cyanobacteria declined significantly during the experiment and were highly correlated with the FVIC. In addition, the 503-bp terminal restriction fragment (T-RF) disappeared in treatments with virus enrichments, suggesting possible viral-associated mortality processes, whereas the 506-bp T-RF was not affected in these treatments. On one hand, these results suggest a control of the PCC: first, by viral lysis of some dominant phylotypes and second, by interspecific competition between resistant strains for the uptake of substrates released by this lysis. The increase of Archaea may suggest that these cells benefit such resources. On the other hand, the disappearance and the stable proportion of some dominant phylotypes suggested a selection pressure due to the predatory activity on prokaryotes. In conclusion, prokaryotic abundance appears to be mainly controlled by flagellate protists, which also affected PCC, whereas viruses seemed to be essentially responsible for profound changes in PCC via direct and indirect actions.

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