Conceptual Role for Microaggregates in Pelagic Waters
Organic microaggregates (<100 μm in length), formed both by physical-chemical and biologically-mediated degradation processes in surface waters of nutrient-impoverished environments, may play a vital role in the cycling of nutrients and organic carbon within microbial food chains. Based on recent evidence, it has become abundantly clear that small (up to several μm in diameter) flagellated phototrophs and phagotrophic grazers along with bacteria are among the dominant organisms in oligotrophic waters and that most of the nutrients that sustain these microbes are recycled. Colonization of recently formed microaggregates by bacteria, algae, and phagotrophic micro flagellates through various types of association is one way that nutrients could be absorbed from the aqueous environment and concentrated against a gradient. Flagellates, because of their rapid swimming speeds, most likely can migrate among aggregates even though the density of aggregates may be low. Although swimming does little to increase the flux of nutrients to small flagellates, its main function may be to allow these microbes to seek through chemotaxis enriched microenvironments located within aggregates. The physical and biochemical environment within microaggregates undoubtedly is very much different than what is perceived from measurements made on large-volume samples.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1984-11-01
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