Laboratory-made particles as a useful approach to analyse microbial processes in marine macroaggregates

María A. Unanue, Iñigo Azúa, Jesús M. Arrieta, Gerhard J. Herndl, Juan Iriberri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Two kinds of particles were created in the laboratory in rolling tanks to simulate natural macroaggregates. Laboratory-made particles type 1 were formed under sterile conditions from a mixture of cells and extracellular products of four diatom species in artificial seawater, and inoculated with a marine microbial assemblage. Laboratory-made particles type 2 were created directly from natural seawater. These particles were characterised in terms of maximum length, volume and abundance. Chemical composition (carbohydrates, amino acids and total organic carbon) and bacterial and flagellate abundances were measured in the particles rind ambient water. We found that both kinds of laboratory-made particles were similar in terms of size, chemical composition and microbial abundance. Moreover, they resembled natural marine aggregates in size and volume. However, laboratory-made particles showed higher concentrations of carbohydrates, amino acids and total organic carbon as well as higher microbial abundance when compared to natural macroaggregates. This difference can be explained by the sampling method, since natural aggregates are frequently collected in the sea with syringes including ambient water, and consequently diluted, whereas in this study the laboratory-made particles were carefully collected without ambient water. Thus, both kinds of laboratory-made particles might be a good alternative for the analysis of microbial processes in marine macroaggregates. Advantages and disadvantages of these two types of laboratory-made particles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a predoctoral grant to I.A. from the Basque Government, a predoctoral grant to J.M.A. from EU, and grants from the Basque Government (PGV 9223), the Spanish Government (MEC PB92-0442) and the University of the Basque Country (EB 033/95).


  • Bacterium
  • Flagellate
  • Laboratory-made particle
  • Macroaggregate
  • Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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