AME 67:107-121 (2012)  -  DOI:

Temperature effects on the heterotrophic bacteria, heterotrophic nanoflagellates, and microbial top predators of the NW Mediterranean

Evaristo Vázquez-Domínguez1,*, Dolors Vaqué2, Josep M. Gasol2

1Centro Oceanográfico de Gijón/Xixón (Instituto Español de Oceanografía), Avenida Príncipe de Asturias 70, Gijón/Xixón (Asturies) 33212, Spain
2Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 37-49, Barcelona (Catalonia) 08003, Spain

ABSTRACT: Prokaryotes and protists are important players in the carbon biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems, and temperature is one of the physical factors most influential in the metabolism and composition of plankton communities. Small changes in temperature can change the flow of carbon and the community structure of planktonic ecosystems, and climatological models predict a rise in temperature of 2 to 5°C toward the end of the century in the NW Mediterranean. Laboratory culture experiments have shown that warming can increase the transfer of carbon between bacteria and protists and alter the community composition of microbial top predators (i.e. ciliates and dinoflagellates) by increasing the abundance of bacterivores and producing the extinction of herbivores. Here, we tested whether a small rise in temperature would produce these effects in the coastal Mediterranean. Between March 2003 and February 2004, we established 12 microcosm experiments with water from the Bay of Blanes. The samples were incubated for 48 h at ambient and warmer temperatures (~2.7°C higher than in situ values), and the net and gross growth rates of bacteria and heterotrophic nanoflagellates (HNF) were measured using unfiltered and 0.8 µm filtered treatments. Warming increased the rates of bacterial gross production and bacterial losses to grazing with a clear seasonality; the largest increments in the rates were observed during the cooler months of the year. Warming did not change the net growth rates of dinoflagellates. It decreased the net production of HNF and the net growth rates of ciliates but did not promote the extinction of herbivorous protists. Temperature changed the microbial food web function in NW Mediterranean waters, with small alterations in the community composition of microbial top predators.

KEY WORDS: Temperature · Carbon cycle · Function and structure · Microbial food web · NW Mediterranean

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Cite this article as: Vázquez-Domínguez E, Vaqué D, Gasol JM (2012) Temperature effects on the heterotrophic bacteria, heterotrophic nanoflagellates, and microbial top predators of the NW Mediterranean. Aquat Microb Ecol 67:107-121.

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