Epiphytic bacteria make an important contribution to heterotrophic bacterial production in a humic boreal lake

Jussi Vesterinen, Shawn P. Devlin, Jari Syväranta, Roger I. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Bacterial production (BP) in lakes has generally only been measured in the pelagic zone without accounting for littoral BP, and studies of BP at the whole-lake scale are very scarce. In the dystrophic humic lakes, which are common throughout the boreal region, low light penetration through water has been assumed to seriously limit available habitats for littoral organisms. However, many highly humic boreal lakes have extensive partly submerged vegetation around the lake perimeter which can provide well-lit substrata for highly productive epiphyton. We measured epiphytic BP on the littoral vegetation and pelagic BP in a small highly humic boreal lake in Finland during an open-water season and extrapolated the BP rates to the whole lake. Pelagic BP dominated the combined BP over the study period, but the epiphytic BP contributed an average of 24% to overall BP over the sampling period and was almost equal to pelagic BP in July. According to these results, a substantial component of BP has been previously overlooked in the lake when BP has been measured only from the pelagic. Our study demonstrates that the role of the littoral zone in BP in highly humic lakes has previously been understated, and needs to be taken into account in assessments of whole-lake carbon cycling and metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-257
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Microbial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 5 2017


  • Autotrophic
  • Heterotrophic
  • Littoral
  • Pelagic
  • Periphyton


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