Les communautés microbiennes des phytotelmes des Broméliacées : structure et influence de l'habitat, des conditions environnementales et des interactions biologiques

Abstract : Bromeliads are a large family of neotropical flowering plants. The leaves of many bromeliads are tightly interlocking, forming wells that collect water and organic detritus. These phytotelmata (plant-held water) provide habitat for numerous aquatic organisms ranging from microorganisms to vertebrates. In this aquatic ecosystem, detritus (usually leaf litter) form the basis of a food web upon which depends the nutrition of the bromeliad. In tropical forests, these phytotelmata form abundant natural aquatic microcosms, distributed in a large range of tropical environments, from understory to overstory. In addition, some species of tank-bromeliads share mutualistic relationships with terrestrial invertebrates such as ants, while others have evolved in nutrient-poor environments and have become insectivorous. Although numerous ecological studies have dealt with invertebrates communities, analyses of the structure of microbial communities in tank-bromeliads remain very scarce and factors that shape these communities derived mostly from studies of others aquatic ecosystems. Here, we analyzed the impact of environmental and biological factors on the structure and the diversity of aquatic microbial communities in tank-bromeliads located in contrasted environments in French Guiana. We examined aquatic communities inhabiting tanks of 8 bromeliad species located in two sites of French Guiana, and analyzed the impact of different abiotic and biotic variables, such as vegetative traits of plants, habitat size, functional feeding groups of invertebrates, mutualistic association with ants, etc. Our results highlight the ubiquity of microbial groups (virus, bacteria, fungi, eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria, protozoans and micrometazoans) in this ecosystem and the significance of autotrophic organisms in this detritus-based system. These plants provide a wide variety of aquatic environments ; from strict heterotrophic systems (e.g. Guzmania lingulata) to mixed systems in which the autotrophic compartment sometimes dominates (e.g. Catopsis berteroniana). The structure of the microbial food web in tank-bromeliad largely depends on (1) the habitat structure (i.e. the vegetative traits of the plants such as plant height and the number of wells), and (2) the environmental conditions of the plants (i.e. light exposure and input of detrital organic matter). For the ant-garden bromeliad Aechmea mertensii, we found that the identity of the associated ant affects both habitat structure and plant location, which in turn influence the structure of the microbial food web. Through their filtration, aquatic invertebrates are involved in the control of microbial communities. However, the analysis of the distribution patterns suggests that their activities of excretion, detrital processing and nutrient cycling positively affect the microbial food web. In the insectivorous tank-bromeliad Catopsis berteroniana, bacterial communities were mostly driven by the number of dead ants, which represent the main trapped preys in this plant. This work highlights the huge diversity of aquatic ecosystems that are created by bromeliads, and their significance for the maintenance of taxonomic and functional diversity of microorganisms in tropical forests.
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Olivier Brouard. Les communautés microbiennes des phytotelmes des Broméliacées : structure et influence de l'habitat, des conditions environnementales et des interactions biologiques. Sciences agricoles. Université Blaise Pascal - Clermont-Ferrand II, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012CLF22229⟩. ⟨tel-00741962⟩

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