Extremely productive microbial communities in shallow saline pools respond immediately to changing meteorological conditions

A. K.T. Kirschner*, A. Eiler, T. C. Zechmeister, B. Velimirov, A. Herzig, R. Mach, A. H. Farnleitner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

17 Citations (Scopus)


Diel changes in bacterial and cyanobacterial numbers, as well as heterotrophic bacterial production, were examined in two shallow alkaline pools, harbouring dense populations of cyanobacteria (up to 1100 × 109 cells 1-1) and bacteria (up to 500 × 109 cells I-1). Together with the recorded bacterial production rates (925 μgC I-1 h-1), these values are the highest reported for natural aquatic ecosystems. The investigations were performed during a fair-weather situation, and during a rapid change after a long-term fair-weather situation to thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. During fair weather, bacterial growth was significantly correlated to the diurnal light and temperature cycle. Prokaryotic abundances were fairly constant, and loss by grazing and viral lysis must have been of significant importance. During the invasion of rainy weather, the prokaryotic community showed a strong and immediate response. A significant enhancement of bacterial growth followed after rainfall, suggesting that the high salt concentrations had inhibited bacterial activity. Changes in bacterial and cyanobacterial numbers were consistent with this pattern. From comparison with the available literature, we conclude that diel changes of bacterioplankton are regulated by a complex combination of environmental factors specific for each investigated ecosystem. In the soda pools investigated, external abiotic factors were dominant on a diel scale. In larger ecosystems, such factors are much more buffered and internal biotic interactions may prevail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-555
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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