In aquatic systems, bacterial community succession is a function of top-down and bottom-up factors, but little information exists on “sideways” controls, such as bacterial predation by Bdellovibrio-like organisms (BLOs), which likely impacts nutrient cycling within the microbial loop and eventual export to higher trophic groups. Here we report transient response of estuarine microbiota and BLO spp. to tidal-associated dissolved organic matter supply in a river-dominated estuary, Apalachicola Bay, Florida. Both dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic nitrogen concentrations oscillated over the course of the tidal cycle with relatively higher concentrations observed at low tide. Concurrent with the shift in dissolved organic matter (DOM) supply at low tide, a synchronous increase in numbers of bacteria and predatorial BLOs were observed. PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism of small subunit rDNA, cloning, and sequence analyses revealed distinct shifts such that, at low tide, significantly higher phylotype abundances were observed from γ-Proteobacteria, δ-Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and high G+C Gram-positive bacteria. Conversely, diversity of α-Proteobacteria, β-Proteobacteria, and Chlamydiales-Verrucomicrobia group increased at high tides. To identify metabolically active BLO guilds, tidal microcosms were spiked with six 13C-labeled bacteria as potential prey and studied using an adaptation of stable isotope probing. At low tide, representative of higher DOM and increased prey but lower salinity, BLO community also shifted such that mesohaline clusters I and VI were more active; with an increased salinity at high tide, halotolerant clusters III, V, and X were predominant. Eventually, 13C label was identified from higher micropredators, indicating that trophic interactions within the estuarine microbial food web are potentially far more complex than previously thought
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