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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 350:55-61 (2007)  -  DOI:

Effect of ciliates on nitrification and nitrifying bacteria in Baltic Sea sediments

Mario Prast1,*, Adrian A. Bischoff2, Uwe Waller2, Rudolf Amann3, Ulrike-G. Berninger1

1University of Salzburg, Dept. of Organismal Biology, Hellbrunner Strasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
2Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAR, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
3Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany

ABSTRACT: Nitrification in aquatic sediments is catalyzed by bacteria. While many autecological studies on these bacteria have been published, few have regarded them as part of the benthic microbial food web. Ciliates are important as grazers on bacteria, but also for remineralization of organic matter. We tested the hypothesis that ciliates can affect nitrification. Experiments with Baltic Sea sediments in laboratory flumes, with or without the addition of cultured ciliates, were conducted. We found indication of a higher nitrification potential (ammonium oxidation) in one experiment and increased abundances of nitrifying bacteria in treatments with ciliates. This is likely due to higher nitrogen availability caused by excretion by ciliates and enhanced transport processes in the sediment.

KEY WORDS: Nitrifying bacteria · Ciliates · Nitrification · Bacteria · Sediment · FISH · Nitrification slurry assay

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Cite this article as: Prast M, Bischoff AA, Waller U, Amann R, Berninger U (2007) Effect of ciliates on nitrification and nitrifying bacteria in Baltic Sea sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 350:55-61.

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