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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 47, No. 1 - Feature article
DAPI-stained bacteria from a low dilution culture with a morphologically diverse community. The inset shows the culture bottles used in the experiment. Photos: Paul O. B. Itor (inset) & Katalin É. Szabó

Szabó KÉ, Itor POB, Bertilsson S, Tranvik L, Eiler A


Importance of rare and abundant populations for the structure and functional potential of freshwater bacterial communities


The influence of rare and abundant bacterial species on growth, biomass production and DOC degrading capacity of bacterial communities was evaluated using dilution cultures of a lakewater inoculum under 3 different DOC regimes: control, phenol-enriched, and humic substance-enriched. Dilution factor and DOC source affected the composition of the emerging microbial communities. Although general ecosystem features such as biomass yield were not affected by the dilution-to-extinction of less abundant populations, more specialised functions such as the capability to exploit humic substances or to resist phenol-induced toxicity were restricted to relatively rare microbial populations. This experiment demonstrates that the performance of microbial communities following an environmental perturbation depends on the presence of rare as well as abundant species.


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