Abundance of thraustochytridsand bacteria in the equatorial Indian Ocean, in relation totransparent exopolymeric particles (TEPs)
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Thraustochytrid protists are often abundant in coastal waters. However, their population dynamics and substrate preferences in the oceanic water column are poorly understood.We studied the abundance and distribution of thraustochytrids, bacteria and TEPs in the equatorial Indian Ocean waters during September 2003, October 2004 and September 2006. Thraustochytrids and bacteria were abundant, suggesting high biological productivity of the region. Thraustochytrids were positively related to bacteria during October 2004 but not at other times, suggesting overlapping or varying substrate preferences at different times. Thraustochytrid and bacteria were positively related to TEPs only in a few stations during October 2004, but were mostly positively related to TEPs generated from in situ water in a roller table experiment. TEPs from natural samples during October 2004 had a much greater affinity to the lectin Concanavalin A than to Limulin compared with those in September 2006 and from the roller tank experiments. The chemical composition of TEPs might explain their relationship with thraustochytrids. Thraustochytrids averaged a higher biomass than bacteria in two of the three cruises, but were less frequent and more patchily distributed compared with bacteria.
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