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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 65:197-206 (2011)  -  DOI:

The potential of methanotrophic bacteria to compensate for food quantity or food quality limitations in Daphnia

Peter Deines1,2, Patrick Fink1,3,*

1Department of Physiological Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, August-Thienemann-Straße 2, 24306 Plön, Germany
2Present address: Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University, The Station Crescent, Albany Highway, Auckland 0632, New Zealand 3Present address: Cologne Biocenter, Workgroup for Aquatic Chemical Ecology, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Straße 47b, 50674 Köln, Germany

ABSTRACT: The endpoint of anaerobic degradation of organic compounds in aquatic ecosystems is methane. This methane-carbon is not necessarily lost for ecosystem processes as it can be utilized by methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB), and possibly recycled into benthic and pelagic food webs. The dominant zooplankton in many lakes are daphnids, which could act as vectors for channeling methane-carbon from methanotrophic bacteria upwards in the food chain. We demonstrate, using 13C-enriched diets in laboratory experiments, that methane-carbon can enter the pelagic food web via filtration of MOB by cladoceran zooplankton. Because carbon use efficiency in Daphnia appears to be limited by the availability of dietary sterols on prokaryotic diets, we test the hypothesis that the uptake of MOB, the only prokaryotes possessing sterols and sterol-like compounds, can lead to a quantitative and qualitative upgrading of phytoplankton diets of Daphnia. Our results confirm the general superiority of eukaryotic over prokaryotic food sources for Daphnia growth and reproduction. Although MOB addition compensated for limited food quantity, we found no evidence for a qualitative upgrading through MOB. Consequently, there was no direct relationship between the quantity of food available and the fitness (somatic growth) of Daphnia, but rather a strong food quality effect, independent of MOB addition. Our findings support the view that methane is an important carbon source to pelagic ecosystems and thus have strong implications for qualitative and quantitative assessments of carbon recycling pathways in aquatic ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Daphnia · Methanotrophs · Sterols · Hopanoids · Stable isotopes

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Cite this article as: Deines P, Fink P (2011) The potential of methanotrophic bacteria to compensate for food quantity or food quality limitations in Daphnia. Aquat Microb Ecol 65:197-206.

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