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Interactions between benthic copepods, bacteria and diatoms promote nitrogen retention in intertidal marine sediments
Stock, W.; Heylen, K.; Sabbe, K.; Willems, A.; De Troch, M. (2014). Interactions between benthic copepods, bacteria and diatoms promote nitrogen retention in intertidal marine sediments. PLoS One 9(10): e111001.
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, more
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    The present study aims at evaluating the impact of diatoms and copepods on microbial processes mediating nitrate removal in fine-grained intertidal sediments. More specifically, we studied the interactions between copepods, diatoms and bacteria in relation to their effects on nitrate reduction and denitrification. Microcosms containing defaunated marine sediments were subjected to different treatments: an excess of nitrate, copepods, diatoms (Navicula sp.), a combination of copepods and diatoms, and spent medium from copepods. The microcosms were incubated for seven and a half days, after which nutrient concentrations and denitrification potential were measured. Ammonium concentrations were highest in the treatments with copepods or their spent medium, whilst denitrification potential was lowest in these treatments, suggesting that copepods enhance dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium over denitrification. We hypothesize that this is an indirect effect, by providing extra carbon for the bacterial community through the copepods’ excretion products, thus changing the C/N ratio in favour of dissimilatory nitrate reduction. Diatoms alone had no effect on the nitrogen fluxes, but they did enhance the effect of copepods, possibly by influencing the quantity and quality of the copepods’ excretion products. Our results show that small-scale biological interactions between bacteria, copepods and diatoms can have an important impact on denitrification and hence sediment nitrogen fluxes.

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