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Microb Ecol. 1987 Nov;14(3):219-32. doi: 10.1007/BF02012942.

The community structure of sessile heterotrophic bacteria stressed by acid mine drainage.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 22903, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Microbial communities that developed on glass slides suspended in acid-polluted (pH=2.9) and nonpolluted (pH=6.5) but otherwise similar waters showed evidence of stress when suspended at the opposite station. Glucose incorporation was inhibited in both translocated communities, but the inhibition was not as severe and recovery of activity was faster for the acid-developed community as compared to the circumneutral community. The communities contained a substantially different set of members with little overlap. The range of pH values at which the members of the acid-developed community could function suggested that the members of that community were generalists, as opposed to narrowly constrained members of the community from the circumneutral station. Based on the proportion of test characters that received positive responses, the organisms from the acidic site were more general in their abilities (47.6% positive) as compared with the neutral counterparts (18.7% positive). The results support the concept that communities developed in extreme environments tend to be generalists, whereas those from mesic environments, due to the higher levels of competition present, tend to be specialists. Furthermore, the study of microbial communities in dynamic systems such as streams and reservoir inflows is facilitated by the use of solid surfaces which allow an assemblage of nontransient microbes to develop.


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