AME 14:59-67 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/ame014059

Occurrence and microbial dynamics of macroscopic organic aggregates (lake snow) in Lake Kinneret, Israel, in fall

Hans-Peter Grossart1,*, Tom Berman2, Meinhard Simon1, Kirsten Pohlmann1

1Limnological Institute of the University of Constance, PO Box 5560, D-78434 Konstanz, Germany
2Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, PO Box 345, Tiberias, Israel 14102
*Present address: Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0202, USA. E-mail:

The occurrence, composition, and microbial dynamics of lake snow aggregates were studied in Lake Kinneret, Israel, in fall 1995 (September-December). Mechanisms of formation and bacterial colonization of aggregates were investigated under well-defined conditions by using rolling tanks. Abundance, form, and composition of aggregates in Lake Kinneret were controlled by biological as well as by physical parameters such as the phytoplankton standing stock and wind-induced shear forces. In meso-eutrophic Lake Kinneret, the abundance of aggregates ranged between <1 and 100 l-1 and numbers of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) reached up to 6915 ml-1. Our laboratory experiments using natural lake water samples indicated that cations, particulate organic carbon (POC), and TEP controlled aggregation. According to differences in formation and composition of aggregates, their bacterial colonization was highly variable; colonization was highest on cyanobacterial aggregates. High aminopeptidase activities of aggregate-associated bacteria indicated a rapid turnover of particulate organic matter (POM) and led to a release of dissolved amino acids into the ambient water. Efficient grazing of lake snow aggregates by juvenile fish from Lake Kinneret (Acanthobrama terrae-sanctae and A. lissneri) suggested that POM on aggregates can be directly transferred to higher trophic levels. Thus, aggregates with associated microorganisms are not only sites of vertical fluxes, centers of rapid and efficient recycling of POM, and a source of dissolved organic matter (DOM), but also a potentially important food source for higher trophic levels.


Lake snow aggregates · Lake Kinneret · Bacteria · Aggregate formation · POM · TEP · Ectoenzyme activities · Fish feeding


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