Benthic invertebrates affect microbial processes and communities in freshwater sediment by enhancing sediment-water solute fluxes and by grazing on bacteria. Using microcosms, the effects of larvae of thewidespread midge Chironomus plumosus on the efflux of denitrification products (N2O and N2+ N2O) and the diversity and abundance of nitrate- and nitrous-oxide-reducing bacteria were investigated. Additionally, the diversity of actively nitrate- and nitrous-oxide-reducing bacteria was analyzed in the larval gut.The presence of larvae increased the total effluxes of N2O and N2+N2O up to 8.6- and 4.2-fold, respectively, which was mostly due to stimulation of sedimentary denitrification; incomplete denitrification in the guts accounted for up to 20% of the N2O efflux. Phylotype richness of the nitrate reductase gene narG was significantly higher in sediment with than without larvae. In the gut, 47 narG phylotypes were found expressed, which may contribute to higher phylotype richness in colonized sediment. In contrast, phylotype richness of the nitrous oxide reductase gene nosZ was unaffected by the presence of larvae and very few nosZ phylotypes were expressed in the gut. Gene abundance of neither narG, nor nosZ wasdifferent in sediments with and without larvae. Hence, C. plumosus increases activity and diversity, but not overall abundance of nitrate-reducing bacteria, probably by providing additional ecological niches in its burrow and gut.
Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 2014, Vol 37, Issue 1, p. 51-59