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Phagotrophic Protist Diversity in the Groundwater of a Karstified Aquifer – Morphological and Molecular Analysis

Authors

  • Ute Risse-Buhl,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Freshwater Conservation, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, 15526 Bad Saarow, Germany
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  • Martina Herrmann,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
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  • Patricia Lange,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
    2. Department of Hydrogeology, Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
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  • Denise M. Akob,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
    Current affiliation:
    1. U.S. Geological Survey, 430 National Center, Reston, Virginia 20192
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  • Natalia Pizani,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
    Current affiliation:
    1. Lab. Ecología acuática, Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional del Sur, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina
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  • Wilfried Schönborn,

    1. Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
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  • Kai Uwe Totsche,

    1. Department of Hydrogeology, Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
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  • Kirsten Küsel

    Corresponding author
    • Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
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Correspondence

K. Küsel, Limnology/Aquatic Geomicrobiology Research Group, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Straße 159, 07743 Jena, Thuringia, Germany. Telephone number: +49 3641 949461; FAX number: +49 3641 949402;

e-mail: kirsten.kuesel@uni-jena.de

Abstract

To clarify the structure of microbial food webs in groundwater, knowledge about the protist diversity and feeding strategies is essential. We applied cultivation-dependent approaches and molecular methods for further understanding of protist diversity in groundwater. Groundwater was sampled from a karstified aquifer located in the Thuringian Basin (Thuringia, Germany). Cultivable protist abundance estimated up to 8,000 cells/L. Eleven flagellates, 10 naked amoebae, and one ciliate morpho-species were detected in groundwater enrichment cultures. Most of the flagellates morpho-species, typically < 10 μm, were sessile or free swimming suspension feeders, e.g., Spumella spp., Monosiga spp., and mobile, surface-associated forms that grasp biofilms, e.g., Bodo spp. Naked amoebae, typically < 35 μm, that grasp biofilms were represented by, e.g., Vahlkampfia spp., Vannella spp., and Hartmanella spp. The largest fraction of the 18S rRNA gene sequences was affiliated with Spumella-like Stramenopiles. Besides, also sequences affiliated with fungi and metazoan grazers were detected in clone libraries of the groundwater. We hypothesize that small sized protist species take refuge in the structured surface of the fractures and fissures of the karstified aquifer and mainly feed on biofilm-associated or suspended bacteria.

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