Submerged Leaf Surfaces as a Microbial Habitat

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Abstract

The economic importance of plant pathogens in the phyllosphere of terrestrial crop plants has encouraged research on the microbial ecology of aerial leaf surfaces. The present volume and the four previous volumes (Preece and Dickinson, 1971; Dickinson and Preece, 1976; Blakeman, 1981; Fokkema and van den Heuvel, 1986) are quite narrowly restricted to the aerial phyllosphere. Information on the microbiology of submerged leaf surfaces is, in contrast, scattered in ecological, microbiological, and freshwater journals and is probably not well known to students of the aerial phyllosphere. The microbial community at submerged leaf surfaces is of ecological importance in many fresh waters. Submerged leaf surfaces are sites of primary and secondary production by microalgae and bacteria which can rival that of phytoplankton and bacterioplankton in the water column. The community serves as food for grazing invertebrates and protozoa, it contributes to biopurification of organically-polluted watercourses, and can be a substantial source of planktonic microorganisms. We, therefore, make no apology for devoting the bulk of this review to submerged, freshwater, leaf surfaces, except for our concluding comparison of the aerial and aquatic phylloplane.