Complexity of bacterial communities in a river-floodplain system (Danube, Austria)

Katharina Besemer, Markus M. Moeseneder, Jesus M. Arrieta, Gerhard J. Herndl, Peter Peduzzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Natural floodplains play an essential role in the processing and decomposition of organic matter and in the self-purification ability of rivers, largely due to the activity of bacteria. Knowledge about the composition of bacterial communities and its impact on organic-matter cycling is crucial for the understanding of ecological processes in river-floodplain systems. Particle-associated and free-living bacterial assemblages from the Danube River and various floodplain pools with different hydrological characteristics were investigated using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. The particle-associated bacterial community exhibited a higher number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and was more heterogeneous in time and space than the free-living community. The temporal dynamics of the community structure were generally higher in isolated floodplain pools. The community structures of the river and the various floodplain pools, as well as those of the particle-associated and free-living bacteria, differed significantly. The compositional dynamics of the planktonic bacterial communities were related to changes in the algal biomass, temperature, and concentrations of organic and inorganic nutrients. The OTU richness of the free-living community was correlated with the concentration and origin of organic matter and the concentration of inorganic nutrients, while no correlation with the OTU richness of the particle-associated assemblage was found. Our results demonstrate the importance of the river-floodplain interactions and the influence of damming and regulation on the bacterial-community composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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