Microbial ecology of Lake Kivu

Marc Llirós, Jean Pierre Descy, Xavier Libert, Cédric Morana, Mélodie Schmitz, Louisette Wimba, Angélique Nzavuga-Izere, Tamara García-Armisen, Carles Borrego, Pierre Servais, François Darchambeau

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9 Citations (Scopus)


© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012. We review available data on archaea, bacteria and small eukaryotes in an attempt to provide a general picture of microbial diversity, abundances and microbe-driven processes in Lake Kivu surface and intermediate waters (ca. 0–100 m). The various water layers present contrasting physical and chemical properties and harbour very different microbial communities supported by the vertical redox structure. For instance, we found a clear vertical segregation of archaeal and bacterial assemblages between the oxic and the anoxic zone of the surface waters. The presence of specific bacterial (e.g. Green Sulfur Bacteria) and archaeal (e.g. ammonia-oxidising archaea) communities and the prevailing physico-chemical conditions point towards the redoxcline as the most active and metabolically diverse water layer. The archaeal assemblage in the surface and intermediate water column layers was mainly composed by the phylum Crenarchaeota, by the recently defined phylum Thaumarchaeota and by the phylum Euryarchaeota. In turn, the bacterial assemblage comprised mainly ubiquitous members of planktonic assemblages of freshwater environments (Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Betaproteobacteria among others) and other less commonly retrieved phyla (e.g. Chlorobi, Clostridium and Deltaproteobacteria). The community of small eukaryotes (<5 μm) mainly comprised Stramenopiles, Alveolata, Cryptophyta, Chytridiomycota, Kinetoplastea and Choanoflagellida, by decreasing order of richness. The total prokaryotic abundance ranged between 0.5 × 106 and 2.0 × 106 cells mL−1, with maxima located in the 0–20 m layer, while phycoerythrin-rich Synechococcus-like picocyanobacteria populations were comprised between 0.5 × 105 and 2.0 × 105 cells mL−1 in the same surface layer. Brown-coloured species of Green Sulfur Bacteria permanently developed at 11m depth in Kabuno Bay and sporadically in the anoxic waters of the lower mixolimnion of the main basin. The mean bacterial production was estimated to 336 mg C m−2 day−1. First estimates of the re-assimilation by bacterioplankton of dissolved organic matter excreted by phytoplankton showed high values of dissolved primary production (ca. 50% of total production). The bacterial carbon demand can totally be fuelled by phytoplankton production. Overall, recent studies have revealed a high microbial diversity in Lake Kivu, and point towards a central role of microbes in the biogeochemical and ecological functioning of the surface layers, comprising the mixolimnion and the upper chemocline.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLake Kivu: Limnology and Biogeochemistry of a Tropical Great Lake
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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