Fate of heterotrophic bacteria in Lake Tanganyika (East Africa)

S. Pirlot, J.-P. Descy, F. Unrein, P. Servais

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Bacterial mortality was studied using two complementary methods between 2002 and 2004 in the two main basins (north and south) of Lake Tanganyika. The disappearance of radioactivity from the DNA of natural assemblages of bacteria previously labeled with tritiated thymidine was used to estimate the mortality due to grazing by predators (72%) and due to the cell lysis (28%). Measurements of ingestion rate of bacteria by protozoa using fluorescent micro-particles yielded protozoan grazing rates similar to those provided by the thymidine method, and showed that heterotrophic nano-flagellates were responsible for most of the grazing pressure on the bacterial community of the pelagic zone (92-99%). Bacterial cell lysis was the second process involved in bacterial mortality, ranking before ciliate grazing. Overall, bacterial mortality was balanced with bacterial production. With regard to the assessment of the trophic role of bacteria, it was estimated that c. 5-8% of the organic carbon taken up by bacteria was converted into protozoan biomass and was thus available for metazoans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-364
Number of pages11
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


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