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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 31:109-121 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/ame031109

Response of bacterial and viral communities to nutrient manipulations in seawater mesocosms

Lise Øvreås1,*, David Bourne2, Ruth-Anne Sandaa1, Emilio O. Casamayor3, Susana Benlloch4, Victoria Goddard5, Gary Smerdon4, Mikal Heldal1, T. Frede Thingstad1

1Department of Microbiology, University of Bergen, PB 7800, Jahnebakken 5, 5020 Bergen, Norway
2Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB No. 3, Cape Ferguson, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia
3Unidad de Limnología, Departamento de Biogeoquímica Acuática, Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes-CSIC, Cami Cala St Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
4División de Microbiología, Universidad Miguel Hernández, 03550 San Juan, Alicante, Spain
5NERC Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: Changes in natural bacterial and viral assemblages were studied in seawater mesocosms manipulated with inorganic (nitrate + phosphate) and inorganic + organic (glucose) nutrient additions. As inferred from the gel band patterns obtained by DGGE, only moderate changes within the bacterial community took place when mineral nutrients were added alone. Supplementing the mineral nutrients with glucose in excess of what the bacteria could consume led, however, to major changes in band patterns. Based on fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), the major bacterial response was identified as an increase in the population of γ-Proteobacteria with a smaller response in a-Proteobacter ia. Sequencing of bands from the DGGE gels indicated that glucose + mineral nutrients led to a Vibrio-dominated bacterial community. A specific FISH probe was designed from a band sequence affiliated to Vibrio splendidus, and linked a large-celled bacterial morphotype to the DGGE-gel bands dominating in glucose-amended mesocosms. A similar difference in the response of the viral populations among treatments was demonstrated using pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The number of bands on DGGE gels and PFGE gels were similar (mean ratio 0.98). We suggest an interpretation of these results where coexistence of nutrient-competing bacterial hosts is controlled by viral lysis. We also suggest that the success of large bacteria in glucose-replete treatments was not based on superior glucose-utilisation abilities, but rather on an advantage in competition for limiting mineral nutrients derived from the combination of a large cell surface with a low cellular content of the limiting element, possible for cells with large C-rich inclusion bodies.

KEY WORDS: Bacteria · Virus · Community composition · DGGE · PFGE · FISH · Vibrio

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