Seasonal and spatial variability of virio-, bacterio-, and picophytoplanktonic abundances in three peri-alpine lakes
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- Personnic, S., Domaizon, I., Dorigo, U. et al. Hydrobiologia (2009) 627: 99. doi:10.1007/s10750-009-9718-8
Flow cytometry (FCM) was used to assess microbial community abundances and patterns in three natural, large and deep peri-alpine hydrosystems, i.e., lakes Annecy (oligotrophic), Bourget, and Geneva (mesotrophic). Picocyanobacteria, small eukaryotic autotrophs, heterotrophic prokaryotes, and viruses were studied in the 0–50 m surface layers to highlight the impact of both physical and chemical parameters as well as possible biotic interactions on the functioning of microbial communities. Some specificities were recorded according to the trophic status of each ecosystem such as the higher number of viruses and heterotrophic bacteria in mesotrophic environments (i.e., Lakes Geneva and Bourget) or the higher abundance of picocyanobacteria in the oligotrophic Lake Annecy. However, both seasonal (temperature) and spatial (depth) variations were comparatively more important than the trophic status in driving the microbial communities’ abundances in these three lakes, as revealed by principal component analysis (PCA). A strong viral termination of the heterotrophic bacterial blooms could be observed in autumn for each lake, in parallel to the mixing of the upper lit layers. As virus to bacteria ratio (VBR) was indeed very high at this period with values varying between 87 and 114, such important relationships between viruses and bacteria were likely. The magnitudes of seasonal variations in VBR, with the highest values ever reported so far, were largely greater than the magnitude of theoretical variations due to the trophic status, suggesting also a strong seasonality in virioplankton production associated to prokaryotic dynamics. FCM analyses allowed discriminating several viral groups. Virus-Like Particles group 1 (VLP1) and group 2 (VLP2) were always observed and significantly correlated to bacteria for the former and chlorophyll a and picocyanobacteria for the latter, suggesting that most of VLP1 and VLP2 could be bacteriophages and cyanophages, respectively. On the basis of these results, new ways of investigation emerge concerning the study of relationships between specific picoplanktonic groups; and overall these results provide new evidence of the necessity to consider further viruses for a better understanding of lake plankton ecology.