The growth rate response of bacterial communities to the potential increase of dissolved organic matter (DOM) produced by the copepod Acartia tonsa was assessed in experiments conducted in three stations representing three contrasting aquatic environments (coastal embayment, shelf and ocean). Bacterial assemblages were inoculated in filtered seawater where A. tonsa had previously grazed. Utilization of DOM over time was evaluated after the addition of bacterial inoculums as the biomass changes in both ‘control’ and ‘copepod’ treatments. In the embayment and ocean a high bacterial growth was observed in the treatments with seawater where copepod were feeding. Additional field measurements of bacterial, primary production and zooplankton biomass support the idea that bacterial communities living in oceanic environments can be efficient to utilize the newly available substrate. Copepods play a key role not only as conveyors of carbon up through the classical food-web, but also generated significant amounts of bacterial substrate in the microbial loop food-web.
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