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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Feb;63(2):587-95.

Morphological and compositional shifts in an experimental bacterial community influenced by protists with contrasting feeding modes.

Abstract

In a two-stage continuous-flow system, we studied the impacts of different protozoan feeding modes on the morphology and taxonomic structure of mixed bacterial consortia, which were utilizing organic carbon released by a pure culture of a Rhodomonas sp. grown on inorganic medium in the first stage of the system. Two of three second stages operated in parallel were inoculated by a bacterivorous flagellate, Bodo saltans, and an algivorous ciliate, Urotricha furcata, respectively. The third vessel served as a control. In two experiments, where algal and bacterial populations grew at rates and densities typical for eutrophic waters, we compared community changes of bacteria, algae, and protozoa under quasi-steady-state conditions and during the transient stage after the protozoan inoculation. In situ hybridization with fluorescent oligonucleotide probes and cultivation-based approaches were used to tentatively analyze the bacterial community composition. Initially the cell size distribution and community structure of all cultivation vessels showed similar patterns, with a dominance of 1- to 2.5-(mu)m-long rods from the beta subdivision of the phylum Proteobacteria ((beta)-Proteobacteria). Inoculation with the ciliate increased bacterial growth in this substrate-controlled variant, seemingly via a recycling of nutrients and substrate released by grazing on algae, but without any detectable effect on the composition of bacterial assemblage. In contrast, an inoculation with the bacterivore, B. saltans, resulted in a decreased proportion of the (beta)-Proteobacteria. One part of the assemblage (<4% of total bacterial numbers), moreover, produced large grazing-resistant threadlike cells. As B. saltans ingested only cells of <3 (mu)m, this strategy yielded a refuge for (symbl)70% of total bacterial biomass from being grazed. Another consequence of the heavy predation in this variant was a shift to the numerical dominance of the (alpha)-Proteobacteria. The enhanced physiological status of the heavily grazed-upon segment of bacterial community resulted in a much higher proportion of CFU (mean, 88% of total bacterial counts) than with other variants, where CFU accounted for (symbl)30%. However, significant cultivation-dependent shifts of the bacterial community were observed toward (gamma)-Proteobacteria and members of the Cytophaga/Flavobacterium group, which demonstrated the rather poor agreement between cultivation-based approaches and oligonucleotide probing.

PMID:
16535515
PMCID:
PMC1389521
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