Planktonic microbial community responses to added copper.Aquat Toxicol. 2007 Jul 20; 83(3):223-37.AT
It is generally agreed that autotrophic organisms and especially phytoplanktonic species can be harmed by copper through its effect on photosystem. However, the impact of copper on other components of the pelagic food web, such as the microbial loop (autotrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton, pigmented and non-pigmented flagellates and ciliates) has received little attention. Indoor experiments were conducted to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of copper, supplied in the range of concentrations used to control cyanobacteria growth in ponds, on non-targeted organisms of natural microbial loop communities sampled in spring and summer. Two copper concentrations were tested (80microgL(-1) and 160microgL(-1) final concentrations), set, respectively, below and above the ligand binding capacity of the water samples. Both caused a significant decrease in the biomass and diversity of pigmented organisms (picophytoplankton and pigmented flagellates). Conversely, the heterotrophic bacterioplankton and the heterotrophic flagellates did not seem to be directly affected by either copper treatment in terms of biomass or diversity, according to the descriptor chosen. The ciliate biomass was significantly reduced with increasing copper concentrations, but differences in sensitivity appeared between spring and summer communities. Potential mixotrophic and nanoplanktorivorous ciliates appeared to be more sensitive to copper treatments than bacterivorous ciliates, suggesting a stronger direct and (or) indirect effect of copper on the former. Copper sulphate treatments had a significant restructuring effect on the microbial loop communities, resulting in a dominance of heterotrophic bacterioplankton among microbial microorganisms 27 days after the beginning of the treatment. The spring microbial communities exhibited a greater sensitivity than the summer communities with respect to their initial compositions.