Diversity and distribution of epibiotic bacteria on Pseudo- nitzschia multiseries (Bacillariophyceae) in culture, and comparison with those on diatoms in native seawater

I Kaczmarska, J M Ehrman, SS Bates, David Green, Claude Leger, Jeremy Harris

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Previous studies on the interaction between bacteria and harmful algal bloom species have mostly considered the bacteria in the bulk solution. Here, we document the abundance and mode of attachment of bacteria growing on the cell surface of the domoic acid-producing diatom Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries (Hasle) Hasle in culture, compared with diatoms in field samples. The epiphytic bacteria were examined by scanning electron microscopy to visualize their morphology and mode of attachment. Two P. multiseries cultures were studied: clone CLN-1 and sub-clone CLN-1-NRC; the latter had been maintained in another laboratory for 2 years. Each of these P. multiseries cultures exhibited a clearly different assemblage of epibiotic bacteria, even though both originated from the same parent culture. The bacterial diversity was greater in clone CLN-1 (nine distinct morphotypes seen) than in sub-clone CLN-1-NRC (six morphotypes). The former clone also produced more domoic acid than the latter. There was a succession of bacterial morphotypes as well as an increase in the number of epiphytic bacteria per diatom cell during the progression from exponential to stationary phase. The most diverse and common morphotypes were rod-shaped cells (e.g. a Caulobacter-like bacterium attached by a discoid holdfast). Epibionts showed a preference for attachment at specific regions of the host diatom frustule, e.g. the raphe or cingulum, locations where organic matter may be extruding from the diatom cell. Most diatom cells carried only one to five bacteria, and up to ca. 60% of the intact diatom cells (although intact cells themselves were infrequent) were still free of epibiotic bacteria at the end of the 31-day batch culture experiment. Sequencing of the SSU rRNA gene showed that five of the eight bacterial strains isolated from the P multiseries cultures were members of the Alphaproteobacteria, three of the Gammaproteobacteria and one of the Bacteroidetes. A morphologically diverse assemblage of epibiotic bacteria was also found on both centric and pennate planktonic diatoms in natural coastal waters. Of the eight morphotypes recorded, all but two were also found in the cultures. Relatively fewer wild diatom cells carried bacteria compared to cells in culture. We hypothesize that the diversity and abundance of epiphytic bacteria may explain some of the variability seen in the production of DA by different P. multiseries clones, and should be considered as another important and controllable variable that influences diatom cell physiology. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-741
Number of pages17
JournalHarmful Algae
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Marine & Freshwater Biology


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