Species-Specific Bacterial Communities in the Phycosphere of Microalgae?
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Specific associations of bacteria with phytoplankton have recently been reported in the literature. In our study, we analyzed bacterial communities of microalgal cultures related to algal growth phases. Seven freshly isolated key diatom and dinoflagellate species from Helgoland Roads, North Sea, were investigated. The community composition of associated bacteria as well as the cell numbers, the photosynthetic efficiency of the algae, and the depletion of inorganic nutrients in the medium were recorded over a period of 8 weeks in batch cultures. Diversity and succession of bacterial communities was analyzed by ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis. Phylogenetic analysis of bacterial populations was performed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA genes followed by DNA sequence analysis. Members of Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria and the Flavobacteria–Sphingobacteria group within the Bacteroidetes phylum predominated in the cultures. Differences in free-living and attached bacterial populations were observed between the phylogenetic groups. Shifts in the bacterial communities could not be correlated to changes of nutrient levels or algal growth phases. Regarding our results, it should not be generalized that the compositions of the bacterial communities are strictly species specific for microalgae. The importance of factors like the composition of exudates is apparent.