The haptophyte Prymnesium parvum has lytic properties, and it affects coexisting phytoplankton species through allelopathy. We studied the effect of P. parvum allelochemicals on the lysis of the nontoxic and nonaxenic cryptomonad Rhodomonas salina and the consequent release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Changes in production, cell density, and biomass of associated bacteria were measured over 12 h. Six different combinations of P. parvum and R. salina cultures, their cell- and bacteria-free filtrates, and growth media as controls were used in the experiments. When P. parvum and R. salina cells were mixed, a significant increase in DOC concentration was measured within 30 min. Bacterial biomass increased significantly during the next 6 to 12 h when R. salina was mixed either with the P. parvum culture or the cell-free P. parvum filtrates (allelochemicals only). In contrast, bacterial biomass did not change in the treatments without the allelopathic action (without R. salina cells). Blooms of P. parvum alter the functioning of the planktonic food web by increasing carbon transfer through the microbial loop. In addition, P. parvum may indirectly benefit from the release of DOC as a result of its ability to ingest bacteria, by which it can acquire nutrients during limiting conditions.
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