Over the last two decades, increasing attention has been paid to the impact of jellyfish blooms on marine communities. Aurelia aurita is one of the most studied of the Scyphozoans, and several studies have been carried out to describe its role as a top-down controller within the classical food web. However, little data are available to define the effects of these jellyfish on microbial communities. The aims of this study were to describe the predation impact of A. aurita ephyrae on a natural microplanktonic assemblage, and to determine any reshaping effects on the prokaryote community composition and functioning. Surface coastal water was used to set up a 24-h grazing experiment in microcosms. Samples were collected to determine the variations in prey biomass, heterotrophic carbon production, extracellular leucine aminopeptidase activity, and grazing pressure. A next-generation sequencing technique was used to investigate biodiversity shifts within the prokaryote and protist communities through the small subunit rRNA tag approach. This study shows that A. aurita ephyrae were responsible for large decreases in the abundances of the more motile microplankton groups, such as tintinnids, Dinophyceae, and aloricate ciliates. Bacillariophyceae and Mediophyceae showed smaller reductions. No evidence of selective predation emerged in the analysis of the community diversity down to the family level. The heterotrophic prokaryote biomass increased significantly (by up to 45%), in parallel with increases in heterotrophic carbon production and leucine aminopeptidase activity (40%). Significant modifications were detected in prokaryotic community composition. Some classes of Gammaproteobacteria and Flavobacteriia showed higher relative abundances when exposed to A. aurita ephyrae, while there was a net decrease for Alphaproteobacteria. Overall, this study provides new insight into the effects of A. aurita on microbial communities, underlining their selective predation toward the more motile groups of microplankton and their impact on prokaryotic assemblages, by favoring blooms of copiotrophic taxa
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