The protein crystals produced by Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) are used against the larvae of pestiferous flood-water mosquitoes in ephemeral wetlands. Although mosquito larvae are considered important predators on protozoans and bacteria, it is not known how a distinct reduction of mosquito larvae density in natural wetlands caused by application of Bti may indirectly affect these microbial communities. Here we show, in a large scale experiment in six natural wetlands, that the densities of heterotrophic protozoans was on an average 4.5 times higher in wetland areas treated with Bti than in control areas. In addition, the taxonomic richness of heterotrophic protozoans increased on an average of 60% in areas with Bti application compared to control areas. The increase in protozoan density and richness was fairly consistent among sites of different wetland habitats. We discuss the potential implications of our results for other parts of the ecosystem.
AedesOchlerotatus sticticusProtozoaMosquito control Top-down control