Microbial Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 323–330 | Cite as

Effects of temperature on microbial utilization of lignocellulosic detritus in a thermally impacted stream

  • Ronald Benner
  • J. Vaun McArthur


The effects of temperature on rates of mineralization of [14C]lignocellulose were investigated in water and sediment from a thermally impacted stream and from a nearby unimpacted swamp at the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina. The temperature optimum for lignocellulose mineralization remained near 35°C at the unimpacted site throughout the sampling period from November 1986 to May 1987. The temperature optimum for lignocellulose mineralization in the thermally impacted stream was near 45°C when thermal effluents from a nuclear reactor were released to the stream, and was near 35°C when the reactor was not operating. Microbial populations capable of rapidly degrading lignocellulose at higher temperatures (45–55°C) developed between 9 and 27 days under conditions of thermal stress, indicating that under favorable conditions thermophilic microorganisms became dominant components of the microbiota. Removal of thermal stress for periods of 75 days or less resulted in a collapse of the thermophilic degrading population.


Sampling Period Thermal Stress Nature Conservation Detritus Favorable Condition 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Benner
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Vaun McArthur
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of Texas at AustinPort Aransas
  2. 2.Savannah River Ecology LaboratoryUniversity of GeorgiaAikenUSA

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