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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 71:25-42 (2013)  -  DOI:

Structural and functional patterns of active bacterial communities during aging of harpacticoid copepod fecal pellets

Clio Cnudde1,*, Chelmarie Joy Sanchez Clavano1,2, Tom Moens1, Anne Willems3, Marleen De Troch1

1Marine Biology, Department of Biology, Campus Sterre, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281—S8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2College of Fisheries, Mindanao State University—Maguindanao, Dalican, 9601 Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, Philippines
3Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

ABSTRACT: Copepod fecal pellet (fp) dissolved organic matter is consumed by free-living bacteria, while particulate matter is degraded by bacteria packed inside the fp (‘internal’) or attached to the fp surface after colonization from the environment (external). This study analyzed the contribution of ‘internal’ and external fp bacteria to the active bacterial community associated with the fp from 2 copepod species, Paramphiascella fulvofasciata and Platychelipus littoralis, during 60 h of fp aging in seawater. Despite early colonization (within 20 to 40 h), fp enrichment by seawater bacteria, as deduced from RNA-based DGGE after 60 h, was limited. In contrast, ‘internal’ bacteria showed high phylotype richness. The majority of ‘internal’ bacterial phylotypes persisted on aged fp and together represented half of the active bacterial community. Food source strongly impacted ‘internal’ bacterial diversity, though the exact origin of fp ‘internal’ bacteria, as either undigested food-associated bacteria or as copepod gut bacteria, could not be unambiguously determined. ‘Internal’ bacteria of fresh fp showed a high functional diversity (based on Biolog assays) to which Vibrio sp. contributed significantly. In terms of bacterial diversity and functional potential, degradation of copepod fp by ‘internal’ bacteria is equally as important as degradation by bacteria which colonize fp from the outside.

KEY WORDS: Copepod fecal pellet · Fecal pellet degradation · Active bacterial communities · Harpacticoid copepods · 16S rRNA · DGGE · Biolog EcoPlate™

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Cite this article as: Cnudde C, Sanchez Clavano CJ, Moens T, Willems A, De Troch M (2013) Structural and functional patterns of active bacterial communities during aging of harpacticoid copepod fecal pellets. Aquat Microb Ecol 71:25-42.

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