Bacterial Colonization on Fecal Pellets of Harpacticoid Copepods and on Their Diatom Food
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.
KeywordsBacterial Community Fecal Pellet Navicula Copepod Species Harpacticoid Copepod
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.
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