Weak coupling between community composition and functioning of aquatic bacteria

Langenheder, Silke, Eva S. Lindström, Lars J. Tranvik

Limnol. Oceanogr., 50(3), 2005, 957-967 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.3.0957

ABSTRACT: We performed a batch culture experiment with a factorial design in which sterile water from four lakes and bacterial assemblages (size-fractionated lake water) from the same lakes were set up in all possible combinations. The functional performance (biomass yield, respiration, growth rates, and growth efficiency) of bacterial communities growing in the cultures depended primarily on the type of the medium and to a much lesser extent on the origin of the bacterial assemblage. Functional changes were only partly paralleled by changes in community composition, as indicated by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Similar bacterial communities developed in different cultures as a result of receiving either the same medium or the same inoculum, indicating that bacterial communities are comprised of populations of generalists that can grow under most conditions as well as populations with the life strategy of specialists. However, bacteria originating from a slightly acidic polyhumic lake failed to grow, grew unsteadily, or exhibited an extended lag phase when exposed to media originating from other lakes, indicating that the bacterial community in the polyhumic lake was not able to adapt rapidly to changes in environmental conditions.

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