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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 39:57-67 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/ame039057

Nutrient limitation of bacteria and sources of nutrients supporting nutrient-limited bacterial growth in an Amazonian floodplain lake

Danny Rejas1,2,*, Koenraad Muylaert3, Luc De Meester1

1Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Debériotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
2Unidad de Limnología y Recursos Acuáticos, Universidad Mayor de San Simón, casilla 471, Cochabamba, Bolivia
3Section Protistology & Aquatic Ecology, Department of Biology, University Gent, Krijgslaan 281 – S8, 9000 Gent, Belgium

ABSTRACT: Laguna Bufeos is a white-water floodplain lake located in the upper Amazon basin (Ichilo River, Bolivia). To study nutrient limitation of bacteria and to determine the sources supporting nutrient-limited bacterial growth, 5 nutrient deletion/dilution experiments were carried out in Laguna Bufeos. We carried out 3 experiments during 3 consecutive low-water seasons and 2 experiments during 1 high-water season. No evidence of N or P limitation was observed during the 2 experiments in the high-water season. Conversely, bacteria were limited by P in the 3 experiments in the low-water season. Limitation by N occurred only in one of the low-water experiments. Nutrient-limited bacterial growth rates equaled 37 to 86% of nutrient-saturated growth rates. Nutrients recycled by microzooplankton, mainly heterotrophic nanoflagellates and oligotrich ciliates, were the major nutrient source supporting P- or N-limited growth. Our results suggest a strong control of bacterial growth rates by P in Amazonian white-water lakes during the low-water season, while this limitation is alleviated during the high-water season, probably through supply of new nutrients from the river. The strong nutrient limitation of bacteria and the dependence of bacteria on nutrients supplied by their predators can be expected to slow down the decomposition of organic matter in Amazonian floodplain lakes. This may partly explain why these ecosystems are often rich in organic matter.

KEY WORDS: White water · Amazon · Floodplain lake · Bacteria · Nutrient limitation · Phosphorus · Nutrient deletion/dilution experiments

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