[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Stage structures of populations can have a profound influence on their dynamics. However, not much is known about the transient dynamics that follow a disturbance in such systems. Here we combined chemostat experiments with dynamical modeling to study the response of the phytoplankton species Chlorella vulgaris to press perturbations. From an initially stable steady state, we altered either the concentration or dilution rate of a growth-limiting resource. This disturbance induced a complex transient response-characterized by the possible onset of oscillations-before population numbers relaxed to a new steady state. Thus, cell numbers could initially change in the opposite direction of the long-term change. We present quantitative indexes to characterize the transients and to show that the dynamic response is dependent on the degree of synchronization among life stages, which itself depends on the state of the population before perturbation. That is, we show how identical future steady states can be approached via different transients depending on the initial population structure. Our experimental results are supported by a size-structured model that accounts for interplay between cell-cycle and population-level processes and that includes resource-dependent variability in cell size. Our results should be relevant to other populations with a stage structure including organisms of higher order.
The American Naturalist 07/2013; 182(1):103-19. · 4.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Stage structures of populations can have a profound influence on their dynamics. However, not much is known about the transient dynamics that follow a disturbance in such systems. Here we combined chemostat experiments with dynamical modeling to study the response of the phytoplankton species Chlorella vulgaris to press perturbations. From an initially stable steady state, we altered either the concentration or dilution rate of a growth-limiting resource. This disturbance induced a complex transient response—characterized by the possible onset of oscillations—before population numbers relaxed to a new steady state. Thus, cell numbers could initially change in the opposite direction of the long-term change. We present quantitative indexes to characterize the transients and to show that the dynamic response is dependent on the degree of synchronization among life stages, which itself depends on the state of the population before perturbation. That is, we show how identical future steady states can be approached via different transients depending on the initial population structure. Our experimental results are supported by a size-structured model that accounts for interplay between cell-cycle and population-level processes and that includes resource-dependent variability in cell size. Our results should be relevant to other populations with a stage structure including organisms of higher order.
The American Naturalist 07/2013; · 4.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the deep, cooler layers of clear, nutrient-poor, stratified water bodies, phytoplankton often accumulate to form a thin band or “deep chlorophyll maximum” (DCM) of ecological importance. Under such conditions, these photosynthetic microorganisms may be close to their physiological compensation points and to the boundaries of their ecological tolerance. To grow and survive any resulting energy limitation, DCM species are thought to exhibit highly specialised or flexible acclimation strategies. In this study, we investigated several of the adaptable ecophysiological strategies potentially employed by one such species, Chlamydomonas acidophila: a motile, unicellular, phytoplanktonic flagellate that often dominates the DCM in stratified, acidic lakes. Physiological and behavioural responses were measured in laboratory experiments and were subsequently related to field observations. Results showed moderate light compensation points for photosynthesis and growth at 22°C, relatively low maintenance costs, a behavioural preference for low to moderate light, and a decreased compensation point for photosynthesis at 8°C. Even though this flagellated alga exhibited a physiologically mediated diel vertical migration in the field, migrating upwards slightly during the day, the ambient light reaching the DCM was below compensation points, and so calculations of daily net photosynthetic gain showed that survival by purely autotrophic means was not possible. Results suggested that strategies such as low-light acclimation, small-scale directed movements towards light, a capacity for mixotrophic growth, acclimation to low temperature, in situ exposure to low O2, high CO2 and high P concentrations, and an avoidance of predation, could combine to help overcome this energetic dilemma and explain the occurrence of the DCM. Therefore, corroborating the deceptive ecophysiological complexity of this and similar organisms, only a suite of complementary strategies can facilitate the survival of C. acidophila in this DCM.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the deep, cooler layers of clear, nutrient-poor, stratified water bodies, phytoplankton often accumulate to form a thin band or "deep chlorophyll maximum" (DCM) of ecological importance. Under such conditions, these photosynthetic microorganisms may be close to their physiological compensation points and to the boundaries of their ecological tolerance. To grow and survive any resulting energy limitation, DCM species are thought to exhibit highly specialised or flexible acclimation strategies. In this study, we investigated several of the adaptable ecophysiological strategies potentially employed by one such species, Chlamydomonas acidophila: a motile, unicellular, phytoplanktonic flagellate that often dominates the DCM in stratified, acidic lakes. Physiological and behavioural responses were measured in laboratory experiments and were subsequently related to field observations. Results showed moderate light compensation points for photosynthesis and growth at 22°C, relatively low maintenance costs, a behavioural preference for low to moderate light, and a decreased compensation point for photosynthesis at 8°C. Even though this flagellated alga exhibited a physiologically mediated diel vertical migration in the field, migrating upwards slightly during the day, the ambient light reaching the DCM was below compensation points, and so calculations of daily net photosynthetic gain showed that survival by purely autotrophic means was not possible. Results suggested that strategies such as low-light acclimation, small-scale directed movements towards light, a capacity for mixotrophic growth, acclimation to low temperature, in situ exposure to low O(2), high CO(2) and high P concentrations, and an avoidance of predation, could combine to help overcome this energetic dilemma and explain the occurrence of the DCM. Therefore, corroborating the deceptive ecophysiological complexity of this and similar organisms, only a suite of complementary strategies can facilitate the survival of C. acidophila in this DCM.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Simultaneous limitation of plant growth by two or more nutrients is increasingly acknowledged as a common phenomenon in nature, but its cellular mechanisms are far from understood. We investigated the uptake kinetics of CO(2) and phosphorus of the algae Chlamydomonas acidophila in response to growth at limiting conditions of CO(2) and phosphorus. In addition, we fitted the data to four different Monod-type models: one assuming Liebigs Law of the minimum, one assuming that the affinity for the uptake of one nutrient is not influenced by the supply of the other (independent colimitation) and two where the uptake affinity for one nutrient depends on the supply of the other (dependent colimitation). In addition we asked whether the physiological response under colimitation differs from that under single nutrient limitation.We found no negative correlation between the affinities for uptake of the two nutrients, thereby rejecting a dependent colimitation. Kinetic data were supported by a better model fit assuming independent uptake of colimiting nutrients than when assuming Liebigs Law of the minimum or a dependent colimitation. Results show that cell nutrient homeostasis regulated nutrient acquisition which resulted in a trade-off in the maximum uptake rates of CO(2) and phosphorus, possibly driven by space limitation on the cell membrane for porters for the different nutrients. Hence, the response to colimitation deviated from that to a single nutrient limitation. In conclusion, responses to single nutrient limitation cannot be extrapolated to situations where multiple nutrients are limiting, which calls for colimitation experiments and models to properly predict growth responses to a changing natural environment. These deviations from single nutrient limitation response under colimiting conditions and independent colimitation may also hold for other nutrients in algae and in higher plants.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(12):e28219. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neglecting the naturally existing functional diversity of communities and the resulting potential to respond to altered conditions may strongly reduce the realism and predictive power of ecological models. We therefore propose and study a predator-prey model that describes mutual feedback via species shifts in both predator and prey, using a dynamic trait approach. Species compositions of the two trophic levels were described by mean functional traits--prey edibility and predator food-selectivity--and functional diversities by the variances. Altered edibility triggered shifts in food-selectivity so that consumers continuously respond to the present prey composition, and vice versa. This trait-mediated feedback mechanism resulted in a complex dynamic behavior with ongoing oscillations in the mean trait values, reflecting continuous reorganization of the trophic levels. The feedback was only possible if sufficient functional diversity was present in both trophic levels. Functional diversity was internally maintained on the prey level as no niche existed in our system, which was ideal under any composition of the predator level due to the trade-offs between edibility, growth and carrying capacity. The predators were only subject to one trade-off between food-selectivity and grazing ability and in the absence of immigration, one predator type became abundant, i.e., functional diversity declined to zero. In the lack of functional diversity the system showed the same dynamics as conventional models of predator-prey interactions ignoring the potential for shifts in species composition. This way, our study identified the crucial role of trade-offs and their shape in physiological and ecological traits for preserving diversity.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e27357. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effects of plant community diversity on ecosystem processes have recently received major attention. In contrast, effects of species richness and functional richness on individual plant performance, and their magnitude relative to effects of community composition, have been largely neglected. Therefore, we examined height, aboveground biomass, and inflorescence production of individual plants of all species present in 82 large plots of the Jena Experiment, a large grassland biodiversity experiment in Germany. These plots differed in species richness (1-60), functional richness (1-4), and community composition. On average, in more species-rich communities, plant individuals grew taller, but weighed less, were less likely to flower, and had fewer inflorescences. In plots containing legumes, non-legumes were higher and weighed more than in plots without legumes. In plots containing grasses, non-grasses were less likely to flower than in plots without grasses. This indicates that legumes positively and grasses negatively affected the performance of other species. Species richness and functional richness effects differed systematically between functional groups. The magnitude of the increase in plant height with increasing species richness was greatest in grasses and was progressively smaller in legumes, small herbs, and tall herbs. Individual aboveground biomass responses to increasing species richness also differed among functional groups and were positive for legumes, less pronouncedly positive for grasses, negative for small herbs, and more pronouncedly negative for tall herbs. Moreover, these effects of species richness differed strongly between species within these functional groups. We conclude that individual plant performance largely depends on the diversity of the surrounding community, and that the direction and magnitude of the effects of species richness and functional richness differs largely between species. Our study suggests that diversity of the surrounding community needs to be taken into account when interpreting drivers of the performance of individual plants.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The individual functional traits of different species play a key role for ecosystem function in aquatic and terrestrial systems. We modeled a multispecies predator-prey system with functionally different predator and prey species based on observations of the community dynamics of ciliates and their algal prey in Lake Constance. The model accounted for differences in predator feeding preferences and prey susceptibility to predation, and for the respective trade-offs. A low food demand of the predator was connected to a high food selectivity, and a high growth rate of the prey was connected to a high vulnerability to grazing. The data and the model did not show standard uniform predator-prey cycles, but revealed both complex dynamics and a coexistence of predator and prey at high biomass levels. These dynamics resulted from internally driven alternations in species densities and involved compensatory dynamics between functionally different species. Functional diversity allowed for ongoing adaptation of the predator and prey communities to changing environmental conditions such as food composition and grazing pressure. The trade-offs determined whether compensatory or synchronous dynamics occurred which influence the variability at the community level. Compensatory dynamics were promoted by a joint carrying capacity linking the different prey species which is particularly relevant at high prey biomasses, i.e., when grazers are less efficient. In contrast, synchronization was enhanced by the coupling of the different predator and prey species via common feeding links, e.g., by a high grazing pressure of a nonselective predator. The communities had to be functionally diverse in terms of their trade-offs and their traits to yield compensatory dynamics. Rather similar predator species tended to cycle synchronously, whereas profoundly different species did not coexist. Compensatory dynamics at the community level thus required intermediately strong tradeoffs for functional traits in both predators and their prey.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acidic mining lakes (pH <3) are specific habitats exhibiting particular chemical and biological characteristics. The species richness is low and mixotrophy and omnivory are common features of the plankton food web in such lakes. The plankton community structure of mining lakes of different morphometry and mixing type but similar chemical characteristics (Lake 130, Germany and Lake Langau, Austria) was investigated. The focus was laid on the species composition, the trophic relationship between the phago-mixotrophic flagellate Ochromonas sp. and bacteria and the formation of a deep chlorophyll maximum along a vertical pH-gradient. The shallow wind-exposed Lake 130 exhibited a higher species richness than Lake Langau. This increase in species richness was made up mainly by mero-planktic species, suggesting a strong benthic/littoral - pelagic coupling. Based on the field data from both lakes, a nonlinear, negative relation between bacteria and Ochromonas biomass was found, suggesting that at an Ochromonas biomass below 50 μg C L(-1), the grazing pressure on bacteria is low and with increasing Ochromonas biomass bacteria decline. Furthermore, in Lake Langau, a prominent deep chlorophyll maximum was found with chlorophyll concentrations ca. 50 times higher than in the epilimnion which was build up by the euglenophyte Lepocinclis sp. We conclude that lake morphometry, and specific abiotic characteristics such as mixing behaviour influence the community structure in these mining lakes.
Limnologica - Ecology and Management of Inland Waters 05/2010; 40(2):161-166. · 1.57 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biological invasions are a major threat to natural biodiversity; hence, understanding the mechanisms underlying invasibility (i.e., the susceptibility of a community to invasions by new species) is crucial. Invasibility of a resident community may be affected by a complex but hitherto hardly understood interplay of (1) productivity of the habitat, (2) diversity, (3) herbivory, and (4) the characteristics of both invasive and resident species. Using experimental phytoplankton microcosms, we investigated the effect of nutrient supply and species diversity on the invasibility of resident communities for two functionally different invaders in the presence or absence of an herbivore. With increasing nutrient supply, increased herbivore abundance indicated enhanced phytoplankton biomass production, and the invasion success of both invaders showed a unimodal pattern. At low nutrient supply (i.e., low influence of herbivory), the invasibility depended mainly on the competitive abilities of the invaders, whereas at high nutrient supply, the susceptibility to herbivory dominated. This resulted in different optimum nutrient levels for invasion success of the two species due to their individual functional traits. To test the effect of diversity on invasibility, a species richness gradient was generated by random selection from a resident species pool at an intermediate nutrient level. Invasibility was not affected by species richness; instead, it was driven by the functional traits of the resident and/or invasive species mediated by herbivore density. Overall, herbivory was the driving factor for invasibility of phytoplankton communities, which implies that other factors affecting the intensity of herbivory (e.g., productivity or edibility of primary producers) indirectly influence invasions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complex dynamics, such as population cycles, can arise when the individual members of a population become synchronized. However, it is an open question how readily and through which mechanisms synchronization-driven cycles can occur in unstructured microbial populations. In experimental chemostats we studied large populations (>10(9) cells) of unicellular phytoplankton that displayed regular, inducible and reproducible population oscillations. Measurements of cell size distributions revealed that progression through the mitotic cycle was synchronized with the population cycles. A mathematical model that accounts for both the cell cycle and population-level processes suggests that cycles occur because individual cells become synchronized by interacting with one another through their common nutrient pool. An external perturbation by direct manipulation of the nutrient availability resulted in phase resetting, unmasking intrinsic oscillations and producing a transient collective cycle as the individuals gradually drift apart. Our study indicates a strong connection between complex within-cell processes and population dynamics, where synchronized cell cycles of unicellular phytoplankton provide sufficient population structure to cause small-amplitude oscillations at the population level.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2010; 107(9):4236-41. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Species richness has been shown to increase biomass production of plant communities. Such overyielding occurs when a community performs better than its component monocultures due to the complementarity or dominance effect and is mostly detected in substrate-bound plant communities (terrestrial plants or submerged macrophytes) where resource use complementarity can be enhanced due to differences in rooting architecture and depth. Here, we investigated whether these findings are generalizeable for free-floating phytoplankton with little potential for spatial differences in resource use. We performed aquatic microcosm experiments with eight phytoplankton species belonging to four functional groups to determine the manner in which species and community biovolume varies in relation to the number of functional groups and hypothesized that an increasing number of functional groups within a community promotes overyielding. Unexpectedly, we did not detect overyielding in any algal community. Instead, total community biovolume tended to decrease with an increasing number of functional groups. This underyielding was mainly caused by the negative dominance effect that originated from a trade-off between growth rate and final biovolume. In monoculture, slow-growing species built up higher biovolumes than fast-growing ones, whereas in mixture a fast-growing but low-productive species monopolized most of the nutrients and prevented competing species from developing high biovolumes expected from monocultures. Our results indicated that the magnitude of the community biovolume was largely determined by the identity of one species. Functional diversity and resource use complementarity were of minor importance among free-floating phytoplankton, possibly reflecting the lack of spatially heterogeneous resource distribution. As a consequence, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships may not be easily generalizeable from substrate-bound plant to phytoplankton communities and vice versa.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the response of the microbial components of the pelagic food web to re-oligotrophication of large, deep Lake Constance where total phosphorus concentrations during mixing decreased from a maximum of 2.81 μmol L-1 in 1979 via 1.87 μmol L-1 in 1987 to 0.26 μmol L-1 in 2007. Measurements of heterotrophic bacteria, autotrophic picoplankton (APP) and heterotrophic nanoflagellates (HNF) in 2006 and 2007 were compared to values from 1987 to 1997. We hypothesized that the biomass and seasonal variability of all groups will decrease under more oligotrophic conditions due to reduced resource availability, particularly for APP and HNF but less for the competitively stronger bacteria. Average bacterial biomass between spring and autumn was unrelated to phosphorus, whereas the ratio of bacterial biomass to chlorophyll a concentration increased with decreasing trophy due to declining chlorophyll concentrations. In contrast, a unimodal relationship was found between APP and phosphorus with low biomass at low and high phosphorus concentrations and maximum biomass in between. Average HNF biomass decreased strongly by a factor of 1030 with decreasing trophy, and chlorophyll-specific HNF biomass was unimodally related to phosphorus. The relative seasonal biomass variability did not change for any group during re-oligotrophication. To conclude, HNF responded much more strongly and bacteria less so than chlorophyll concentrations to oligotrophication, whereas APP exhibited a more complex pattern.
Journal of Plankton Research 01/2009; 31:899-907. · 2.44 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The loss of photosynthesis has occurred often in eukaryotic evolution, even more than its acquisition, which occurred at least nine times independently and which generated the evolution of the supergroups Archaeplastida, Rhizaria, Chromalveolata and Excavata. This secondary loss of autotrophic capability is essential to explain the evolution of eukaryotes and the high diversity of protists, which has been severely underestimated until recently. However, the ecological and evolutionary scenarios behind this evolutionary "step back" are still largely unknown.
Using a dynamic model of heterotrophic and mixotrophic flagellates and two types of prey, large bacteria and ultramicrobacteria, we examine the influence of DOC concentration, mixotroph's photosynthetic growth rate, and external limitations of photosynthesis on the coexistence of both types of flagellates. Our key premises are: large bacteria grow faster than small ones at high DOC concentrations, and vice versa; and heterotrophic flagellates are more efficient than the mixotrophs grazing small bacteria (both empirically supported). We show that differential efficiency in bacteria grazing, which strongly depends on cell size, is a key factor to explain the loss of photosynthesis in mixotrophs (which combine photosynthesis and bacterivory) leading to purely heterotrophic lineages. Further, we show in what conditions an heterotroph mutant can coexist, or even out-compete, its mixotrophic ancestor, suggesting that bacterivory and cell size reduction may have been major triggers for the diversification of eukaryotes.
Our results suggest that, provided the mixotroph's photosynthetic advantage is not too large, the (small) heterotroph will also dominate in nutrient-poor environments and will readily invade a community of mixotrophs and bacteria, due to its higher efficiency exploiting the ultramicrobacteria. As carbon-limited conditions were presumably widespread throughout Earth history, such a scenario may explain the numerous transitions from phototrophy to mixotrophy and further to heterotrophy within virtually all major algal lineages. We challenge prevailing concepts that affiliated the evolution of phagotrophy with eutrophic or strongly light-limited environments only.
PLoS ONE 01/2009; 4(12):e8465. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chlamydomonas acidophila faces high heavy-metal concentrations in acidic mining lakes, where it is a dominant phytoplankton species. To investigate the importance of metals to C. acidophila in these lakes, we examined the response of growth, photosynthesis, cell structure, heat-shock protein (Hsp) accumulation, and metal adsorption after incubation in metal-rich lake water and artificial growth medium enriched with metals (Fe, Zn). Incubation in both metal-rich lake water and medium caused large decreases in photosystem II function (though no differences among lakes), but no decrease in growth rate (except for medium + Fe). Concentrations of small Hsps were higher in algae incubated in metal-rich lake-water than in metal-enriched medium, whereas Hsp60 and Hsp70A were either less or equally expressed. Cellular Zn and Fe contents were lower, and metals adsorbed to the cell surface were higher, in lake-water-incubated algae than in medium-grown cells. The results indicate that high Zn or Fe levels are likely not the main or only contributor to the low primary production in mining lakes, and multiple adaptations of C. acidophila (e.g., high Hsp levels, decreased metal accumulation) increase its tolerance to metals and permit survival under such adverse environmental conditions. Supposedly, the main stress factor present in the lake water is an interaction between low P and high Fe concentrations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spring algal development in deep temperate lakes is thought to be strongly influenced by surface irradiance, vertical mixing and temperature, all of which are expected to be altered by climate change. Based on long-term data from Lake Constance, we investigated the individual and combined effects of these variables on algal dynamics using descriptive statistics, multiple regression models and a process-oriented dynamic simulation model. The latter considered edible and less-edible algae and was forced by observed or anticipated irradiance, temperature and vertical mixing intensity. Unexpectedly, irradiance often dominated algal net growth rather than vertical mixing for the following reason: algal dynamics depended on algal net losses from the euphotic layer to larger depth due to vertical mixing. These losses strongly depended on the vertical algal gradient which, in turn, was determined by the mixing intensity during the previous days, thereby introducing a memory effect. This observation implied that during intense mixing that had already reduced the vertical algal gradient, net losses due to mixing were small. Consequently, even in deep Lake Constance, the reduction in primary production due to low light was often more influential than the net losses due to mixing. In the regression model, the dynamics of small, fast-growing algae was best explained by vertical mixing intensity and global irradiance, whereas those of larger algae were best explained by their biomass 1 week earlier. The simulation model additionally revealed that even in late winter grazing may represent an important loss factor during calm periods when losses due to mixing are small. The importance of losses by mixing and grazing changed rapidly as it depended on the variable mixing intensity. Higher temperature, lower global irradiance and enhanced mixing generated lower algal biomass and primary production in the dynamic simulation model. This suggests that potential consequences of climate change may partly counteract each other.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We tested if the metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) correctly predicts plankton metabolism in a temperate lake, based on a long-term (about 15 years), high-frequency dataset of body size, abundance and production, using two different techniques: least squares regression and maximum likelihood. For phytoplankton, the general fit was relatively poor (r(2) = 0.53). The assumption of the MTE on temperature dependence of metabolism was not supported, and the assumed value of 3/4 of the allometric exponent was barely within 95% confidence limits. For some of the models, the value of b was significantly higher than 3/4. When radiation was included as an additional predictor, it improved the model considerably (r(2) = 0.67). Including grazing by zooplankton reduced the model residuals during the summer period, when grazing is a dominant factor. The allometric exponent had virtually no effect for phytoplankton, due to little variability in average individual size. Zooplankton production, on the other hand, was better predicted by MTE, showing stronger effects of temperature and body size, the average of which varied by a factor of more than a hundred. However, the best-fitting value of the allometric exponent for zooplankton was 0.85, and significantly higher than the 3/4 predicted by the theory. The ratio of observed production to biomass for the entire plankton community declined linearly with the body size (in log-log) with a slope corresponding to a value of b = 0.85. We conclude that the MTE has little predictive power for the metabolism of lacustrine plankton, in particular for phytoplankton, and especially at the scale of variability of this study, and that this could be improved by incorporating radiation into the model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chlamydomonas acidophila, a dominant phytoplankton species in the very acidic Lake 111 (pH 2.7) situated in Germany, faces low concentrations of inorganic phosphorus (Pi), inorganic carbon (Ci) and potassium (K) in its environment, which may lead to a complex colimitation by these nutrients. We performed laboratory and field investigations to test for Pi limitation and its dependence on Ci and K concentrations. The minimum cell quota for phosphorus (Q0) and phosphatase enzyme activity were similar to those for neutrophilic algae, despite the low pH and high concentrations of iron and aluminium, indicating no extra metabolic costs or inhibition of enzymes by the extreme environment. The threshold concentration of soluble reactive phosphorus for growth (SRPt), the algal C:P ratio and the alkaline phosphatase enzyme activity all suggested a moderate Pi limitation of C. acidophila in Lake 111. SRPt and Q0 were higher at low CO2 and K concentrations in culture, showing a relationship between Ci and Pi acquisition. Furthermore, SRPt and Q0 were higher under K/Pi-colimiting conditions than under Pi-limiting conditions alone, suggesting that K concentrations influence Pi limitation in C. acidophila as well. Our results show that a limitation by one macronutrient requires consideration of the availability of the others as their uptake mechanisms depend on each other. Notwithstanding these interactions, Ci or K concentrations had no clear influence on the Pi limitation of C. acidophila in Lake 111.
European Journal of Phycology - EUR J PHYCOL. 01/2007; 42(4):327-339.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Summary1. The in situ abundance, biomass and mean cell volume of Actinophrys sol (Sarcodina: Heliozoa), the top predator in an extremely acidic German mining lake (Lake 111; pH 2.65), were determined over three consecutive years (spring to autumn, 2001–03).2. Actinophrys sol exhibited pronounced temporal and vertical patterns in abundance, biomass and mean cell volume. Increasing from very low spring densities, maxima in abundance and biomass were observed in late June/early July and September. The highest mean abundance recorded during the study was 7 × 103 Heliozoa L−1. Heliozoan abundance and biomass were higher in the epilimnion than in the hypolimnion. Actinophrys sol cells from this acidic lake were smaller than individuals of the same species found in other aquatic systems.3. We determined the growth rate of A. sol using all potential prey items available in, and isolated and cultured from, Lake 111. Prey items included: single-celled and filamentous bacteria of unknown taxonomic affinity, the mixotrophic flagellates Chlamydomonas acidophila and Ochromonas sp., the ciliate Oxytricha sp. and the rotifers Elosa worallii and Cephalodella hoodi. Actinophrys sol fed over a wide-size spectrum from bacteria to metazoans. Positive growth was not supported by all naturally available prey. Actinophrys sol neither increased in cell number (k) nor biomass (kb) when starved, with low concentrations of single-celled bacteria or with the alga Ochromonas sp. Positive growth was achieved with single-celled bacteria (k = 0.22 ± 0.02 d−1; kb = −0.06 ± 0.02 d−1) and filamentous bacteria (k = 0.52 ± <0.01 d−1; kb = 0.66 d−1) at concentrations greater than observed in situ, and the alga C. acidophila (up to k = 0.43 ± 0.03 d−1; kb = 0.44 ± 0.04 d−1), the ciliate Oxytricha sp. (k = 0.34 ± 0.01 d−1) and in mixed cultures containing rotifers and C. acidophila (k = 0.23 ± 0.02–0.32 ± 0.02 d−1; maximum kb = 0.42 ± 0.05 d−1). The individual- and biomass-based growth of A. sol was highest when filamentous bacteria were provided.4. Existing quantitative carbon flux models for the Lake 111 food web can be updated in light of our results. Actinophrys sol are omnivorous predators supported by a mixed diet of filamentous bacteria and C. acidophila in the epilimnion. Heliozoa are important components in the planktonic food webs of ‘extreme’ environments.