What is MICROBIAL LOOP? What does MICROBIAL LOOP mean? MICROBIAL LOOP meaning & explanation

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What is MICROBIAL LOOP? What does MICROBIAL LOOP mean? MICROBIAL LOOP meaning – MICROBIAL LOOP definition – MICROBIAL LOOP explanation.

Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/… license.

The microbial loop describes a trophic pathway in the marine microbial food web where dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is returned to higher trophic levels via its incorporation into bacterial biomass, and then coupled with the classic food chain formed by phytoplankton-zooplankton-nekton. The term microbial loop was coined by Farooq Azam and Tom Fenchel et al. to include the role played by bacteria in the carbon and nutrient cycles of the marine environment.

In general, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is introduced into the ocean environment from bacterial lysis, the leakage or exudation of fixed carbon from phytoplankton (e.g., mucilaginous exopolymer from diatoms), sudden cell senescence, sloppy feeding by zooplankton, the excretion of waste products by aquatic animals, or the breakdown or dissolution of organic particles from terrestrial plants and soils (Van den Meersche et al. 2004). Bacteria in the microbial loop decompose this particulate detritus to utilize this energy-rich matter for growth. Since more than 95% of organic matter in marine ecosystems consists of polymeric, high molecular weight (HMW) compounds (e.g., protein, polysaccharides, lipids), only a small portion of total dissolved organic matter (DOM) is readily utilizable to most marine organisms at higher trophic levels. This means that dissolved organic carbon is not available directly to most marine organisms; marine bacteria introduce this organic carbon into the food web, resulting in additional energy becoming available to higher trophic levels. Recently the term “microbial food web” has been substituted for the term “microbial loop”.

The efficiency of the microbial loop is determined by the density of marine bacteria within it (Taylor and Joint 1990). It has become clear that bacterial density is mainly controlled by the grazing activity of small protozoans and various taxonomic groups of flagellates. Also, viral infection causes bacterial lysis, which release cell contents back into the dissolved organic matter (DOM) pool, lowering the overall efficiency of the microbial loop. Mortality from viral infection has almost the same magnitude as that from protozoan grazing. However, compared to protozoan grazing, the effect of viral lysis can be very different because lysis is highly host-specific to each marine bacteria. Both protozoan grazing and viral infection balance the major fraction of bacterial growth. In addition, the microbial loop dominates in oligotrophic waters, rather than in eutrophic areas – there the classical plankton food chain predominates, due to the frequent fresh supply of mineral nutrients (e.g. spring bloom in temperate waters, upwelling areas). The magnitude of the efficiency of the microbial loop can be determined by measuring bacterial incorporation of radiolabeled substrates (such as tritiated thymidine or leucine).

The microbial loop is of particular importance in increasing the efficiency of the marine food web via the utilization of dissolved organic matter (DOM), which is typically unavailable to most marine organisms. In this sense, the process aids in recycling of organic matter and nutrients and mediates the transfer of energy above the thermocline. More than 30% of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) incorporated into bacteria is respired and released as carbon dioxide. The other main effect of the microbial loop in the water column is that it accelerates mineralization through regenerating production in nutrient-limited environments (e.g. oligotrophic waters). In general, the entire microbial loop is to some extent typically five to ten times the mass of all multicellular marine organisms in the marine ecosystem. Marine bacteria are the base of the food web in most oceanic environments, and they improve the trophic efficiency of both marine food webs and important aquatic processes (such as the productivity of fisheries and the amount of carbon exported to the ocean floor). Therefore, the microbial loop, together with primary production, controls the productivity of marine systems in the ocean…..

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