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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 47:289-297 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/ame047289

Local adaptation among geographically distant clones of the cosmopolitan freshwater ciliate Meseres corlissi. II. Response to pH

Thomas Weisse1,*, Ulrike Scheffel1, Peter Stadler1, Wilhelm Foissner2

1Institute for Limnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Mondseestrasse 9, 5310 Mondsee, Austria
2University of Salzburg, Department of Organismic Biology, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

ABSTRACT: We investigated the pH response of 5 clones of the oligotrichine ciliate Meseres corlissi originating from 2 temperate localities in Austria, from a subtropical habitat in China, and from a warm-temperate habitat in Australia. The pH reaction norm was investigated under standard laboratory conditions, with the small cryptophyte Cryptomonas sp. provided as food at saturating food levels over the pH range 4.0 to 9.5. Experiments were conducted at 22.5°C and lasted for 24 h. We measured growth rate, cell length and volume, and cellular production at each pH. We found significant clone-specific differences in each measured parameter, which increased with geographical distance of the isolates. Overall, the pH reaction norms of the Austrian isolates were significantly different from those of the Australian and Chinese clones. The tolerance to low pH differed by up to 1.5 pH units between the clones, i.e. intraspecific differences were comparable with interspecific differences measured earlier under similar experimental conditions. Our results suggest that the pH reaction norm is not homogenous for the species, but that genetically and phenotypically different ecotypes may exist among free-living, cosmopolitan ciliates that are adapted to a particular habitat.

KEY WORDS: Local adaptation · Oligotrich ciliates · pH response · Intraspecific differences · Meseres corlissi

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