Inter-Research > AME > v22 > n3 > p227-242  
Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 22:227-242 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/ame022227

Impact of the oyster Crassostrea gigas on a microbial community in Atlantic coastal ponds near La Rochelle

Christine Dupuy1,2,*, Annie Pastoureaud1, Mireille Ryckaert1, Pierre-Guy Sauriau1, Hélène Montanié2

1CNRS/IFREMER, Unité Mixte de recherche 10, Centre de Rechereche en écologie marine et aquaculture L¹Houmeau, BP 5, 17137 L¹Houmeau, France
2Laboratoire de Biologie et Environment marine, Université de La Rochelle, Pôle Science Av. Michel Crépeau, 17042 La Rochelle, France

ABSTRACT: To assess the in situ impact of oysters Crassostrea gigas on planktonic protist and bacteria communities and the potential contribution of protozoa to their food resource intake, the abundance and the diversity of protists and bacteria were followed in 2 Atlantic coastal ponds, with and without oysters. The protist biomass in such ponds was high, with a maximum in spring of 982 μg C l-1 and a minimum in winter of 179 μg C l-1. Whatever the season, the presence of oysters (20 m-2 corresponding to an average of 23 mg dry weight m-2) induced a significant decrease in >5 μm protist abundance. On the contrary, planktonic organisms <5 μm, such as Chlorophyta flagellates and bacteria, developed similarly in both ponds. It can be assumed that such depletion in micro-sized protists was especially related to the grazing activity of C. gigas, which efficiently retains >5 μm particles. In spring, oyster grazing triggered dramatic changes in the protist community by lowering the taxonomic diversity. In autumn and winter, the presence of oysters deeply influenced the taxonomic structure of the protist communities: >5 μm protists could only develop in the control pond, whereas they were removed by filtration in the oyster pond; on the contrary, <5 μm protists that were not retained were favoured in the oyster pond. The results showed that hetero/mixotrophic protists represent an important potential resource in coastal ponds: flagellates >5 μm were the main protist resource for C. gigas; ciliates represented the second resource, with a substantial contribution in autumn; diatoms and dinoflagellates, though efficiently removed, represented a weak carbon resource. Our study supports the hypothesis that oysters may access the strong bacterioplanktonic production through hetero/mixotrophic protists, which would thus allow the transfer of carbon from the microbial loop towards C. gigas.

KEY WORDS: Bivalve · Oysters · Food source · Coastal pond · Microbial food web · Protists · Bacteria · Trophic link

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