Lake bacterial assemblage composition is sensitive to biological disturbance caused by an invasive filter feeder

Vincent J. Denef, Hunter J. Carrick, Joann Cavaletto, Edna Chiang, Thomas H. Johengen, Henry A. Vanderploeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


One approach to improve forecasts of how global change will affect ecosystem processes is to better understand how anthropogenic disturbances alter bacterial assemblages that drive biogeochemical cycles. Species invasions are important contributors to global change, but their impacts on bacterial community ecology are rarely investigated. Here, we studied direct impacts of invasive dreissenid mussels (IDMs), one of many invasive filter feeders, on freshwater lake bacterioplankton. We demonstrated that direct effects of IDMs reduced bacterial abundance and altered assemblage composition by preferentially removing larger and particle-associated bacteria. While this increased the relative abundances of many free-living bacterial taxa, some were susceptible to filter feeding, in line with efficient removal of phytoplankton cells of < 2 μm. This selective removal of particleassociated and larger bacteria by IDMs altered inferred bacterial functional group representation, defined by carbon and energy source utilization. Specifically, we inferred an increased relative abundance of chemoorganoheterotrophs predicted to be capable of rhodopsin-dependent energy generation. In contrast to the few previous studies that have focused on the longer-term combined direct and indirect effects of IDMs on bacterioplankton, our study showed that IDMs act directly as a biological disturbance to which freshwater bacterial assemblages are sensitive. The negative impacts on particle-associated bacteria, which have been shown to be more active than free-living bacteria, and the inferred shifts in functional group representation raise the possibility that IDMs may directly alter bacterially mediated ecosystem functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00189-17
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Disturbance
  • Freshwater ecology
  • Invasive species
  • Microbial ecology
  • Quagga mussel


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