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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 64:149-161 (2011)  -  DOI:

Response of heterotrophic stream biofilm ­communities to a gradient of resources

D. J. Van Horn1,*, R. L. Sinsabaugh1, C. D. Takacs-Vesbach1, K. R. Mitchell1,2, C. N. Dahm1

1Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA
2Present address: Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of British Columbia Life Sciences Centre, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z3, Canada

ABSTRACT: The metabolism and biogeochemical cycles of aquatic ecosystems are largely mediated by microbial communities, with biofilm assemblages dominating in stream ecosystems. To determine the effects of the availability of resources on the structure and function of heterotrophic stream biofilms, we created an enrichment gradient by amending darkened stream channel mesocosms with a stoichiometrically balanced solution of sucrose, NO3 and PO43–. A total of 1902 bacterial partial 16S rRNA gene sequences yielded 293 unique operational taxonomic units (OTUs, 97% sequence ­similarity). Significant differences (p < 0.005) were detected between communities from all treatments with the exception of the 2 highest enrichment levels, with increasing enrichment resulting in progressive community divergence and declining diversity. Both the productivity and function of the biofilm community increased exponentially with enrichment, with exponents of 1.5 for areal mass, 2.3 for live-cell density, and 2.5 to 3.5 for the activities of 5 extracellular enzymes. The nonlinear increase in functional capacity suggests that heterotrophic biofilms are highly responsive to the availability of resources, probably as a result of the physical structures and synergistic social interactions found in biofilm assemblages.

KEY WORDS: Heterotrophic stream biofilm · Resource gradient · Extracellular enzymes · 16S rRNA gene sequences

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Cite this article as: Van Horn DJ, Sinsabaugh RL, Takacs-Vesbach CD, Mitchell KR, Dahm CN (2011) Response of heterotrophic stream biofilm ­communities to a gradient of resources. Aquat Microb Ecol 64:149-161.

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