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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Mar;9(3):777-88.

Synergistic and antagonistic effects of viral lysis and protistan grazing on bacterial biomass, production and diversity.

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Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry Group, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France.


In a mesotrophic reservoir, we examined the effects on the bacterioplankton of distinct consumers of bacteria, viruses and heterotrophic nanoflagellates, both alone and combined in an experiment using natural populations and in situ incubations in dialysis bags. Ribosomal RNA-targeted probes were employed as well as 16S RNA gene based PCR denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to enumerate bacterial groups and assess bacterial community composition. We employed probes for Actinobacteria (HGC69a probe), Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroidetes bacteria (CF319a probe), BET42a probe (Betaproteobacteria) and a subgroup-Betaproteobacteria (R-BT065 probe). We found consumer-specific effects on bacterial activity and diversity (against a background of CF and BET dominating all treatments) suggesting distinct vulnerabilities to the two sources of mortality. For example, growth rate of Actinobacteria was only positive in the presence of flagellates, while towards the end of the experiment (T(72-96 h)) growth rate of R-BT was only positive in the viruses only treatment. More specific data on how viruses and flagellates influenced Flectobacillus are shown in the companion paper. Highest richness (number of DGGE bands) was found in the virus only treatment and lowest when both consumers were present. In addition, we found suggestions of both antagonistic and synergistic interactions between the two sources of bacterial mortality. Notably, bactivory by flagellates was associated with reductions in bacterial diversity and increases in viral production.

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