Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 207–220 | Cite as

Effect of light regimes on the utilisation of an exogenous carbon source by freshwater biofilm bacterial communities

  • Gavin Lear
  • Susan J. Turner
  • Gillian D. Lewis


This study reports the novel use of nucleic acid stable isotope probing (NA-SIP) to identify metabolically active ([13C]-acetate assimilating) bacteria in freshwater biofilms. Currently, a little is known of the factors affecting the structure and activity of these complex microbial biofilm communities, although it is likely that they are influenced by riparian vegetation through attenuation of light and alteration of allochthonous inputs of carbon. NA-SIP was used to investigate the effect of varying light regimes on [13C]-acetate assimilating bacteria within laboratory biofilm microcosms. Differences in clone libraries of 16S rRNA and rRNA genes from 13C-labelled and unlabelled nucleic acids indicated differential uptake of acetate and the rapid transfer of 13C to organisms at a higher trophic level. Biofilm communities incubated in the dark changed least over time and retained a significant fraction of phototrophic organisms. Incubation under elevated light caused the greatest change in bacterial community structure. Contrary to expectation, a complete loss of chlorophyll containing organisms occurred within this treatment, challenging current thinking that elevated light promotes communities dominated by photoautotrophs in nutrient enriched environments.


[13C]-acetate Carbon Photoinhibition Stable isotope probing Stream biofilms Bacteria 



This work was funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand (Grant No. UA0X306).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin Lear
    • 1
  • Susan J. Turner
    • 1
  • Gillian D. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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