Microbial Ecology

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 581–591 | Cite as

Bacterial Colonization on Fecal Pellets of Harpacticoid Copepods and on Their Diatom Food

  • Marleen De Troch
  • Clio Cnudde
  • Anne Willems
  • Tom Moens
  • Ann Vanreusel
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


Fecal pellets make up a significant fraction of the global flux of organic matter in oceans, and the associated bacterial communities in particular are a potential food source for marine organisms. However, these communities remain largely unknown. In the present study, the bacterial communities on fecal pellets of the benthic copepod Paramphiascella fulvofasciata feeding on the diatoms Navicula phyllepta and Seminavis robusta were analyzed. The aim of this study was to characterize the bacterial communities associated with the diatoms and the fecal pellets by means of DGGE profiling. Furthermore, isolated bacteria were characterized by means of partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The composition of the bacterial microflora on fecal pellets was studied in terms of the effect of the original food source, the age of the fecal pellets and the copepod’s identity. Alphaproteobacteria, Flavobacteria, and Bacilli were found on the fecal pellets; whereas on diatoms, exclusively Gammaproteobacteria were identified. Especially after eating N. phyllepta, there was an important increase in bacterial diversity, although the diatom N. phyllepta harbored a less diverse bacterial community than S. robusta. Our data suggest that the additional bacteria originate from the copepod’s digestive tract and largely depends on the initial food source.


Bacterial Community Fecal Pellet Navicula Copepod Species Harpacticoid Copepod 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The first author is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO-Flanders, Belgium). The second author acknowledges a PhD grant of IWT (Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders). This study was conducted within the frame of research projects G.0313.04, G.0058.07, and G.0192.09 of the Research Foundation- Flanders (FWO-Flanders, Belgium). Additional support was provided by the Ghent University (BOF-GOA 01GZ0705 and BOF project 01J14809).

Special thanks to Dr. Ilse De Mesel and Mrs. Margo Cnockaert for their valuable help with the molecular analyses.

Three anonymous referees provided very valuable comments that were helped to improve a previous version of this paper.

Supplementary material

248_2010_9669_Fig4_ESM.gif (41 kb)

Summarizing dendrogram (UPGMA) based on the Pearson correlation of the (GTG)5-PCR profiles of pure cultures isolated from diatoms and fecal pellets (fp). a-r clusters with the number of isolates in each cluster indicated between brackets) (GIF 41 kb)

248_2010_9669_MOESM1_ESM.eps (5 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 5100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marleen De Troch
    • 1
  • Clio Cnudde
    • 1
  • Anne Willems
    • 2
  • Tom Moens
    • 1
  • Ann Vanreusel
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology Department, Marine BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Laboratory for MicrobiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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