Microbial Food Web

The microbial food web refers the combined trophic interactions among microbes in aquatic environments. These microbes include viruses, bacteria, algae, heterotrophic protists (such as ciliates and flagellates).

In aquatic environments, microbes constitute the base of the food web. Single celled photosynthetic organisms such as diatoms and cyanobacteria are generally the most important primary producers in the open ocean. Many of these cells, especially cyanobacteria, are too small to be captured and consumed by small crustaceans and planktonic larvae. Instead, these cells are consumed by phagotrophic protists which are readily consumed by larger organisms. Viruses can infect and break open bacterial cells and (to a lesser extent), planktonic algae (a.k.a. phytoplankton). Therefore, viruses in the microbial food web act to reduce the population of bacteria and, by lysing bacterial cells, release particulate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). DOC may also be released into the environment by algal cells. One of the reasons phytoplankton release DOC termed "unbalanced growth" is when essential nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) are limiting. Therefore, carbon produced during photosynthesis is not used for the synthesis of proteins (and subsequent cell growth), but is limited due of a lack of the nutrients necessary for macromolecules. Excess photosynthate, or DOC is then released, or exuded.

The microbial loop describes a pathway in the microbial food web where DOC is returned to higher trophic levels via the incorporation into bacterial biomass.

Aquatic ecosystems – general and freshwater components
General
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Acoustic ecology
  • Agent-based models
  • Algal bloom
  • Anoxic waters
  • Aquatic adaptation
  • Aquatic animals
  • Aquatic biodiversity research
  • Aquatic biomonitoring
  • Aquatic insects
  • Aquatic layers
  • Aquatic mammals
  • Aquatic plants
  • Aquatic predation
  • Aquatic respiration
  • Aquatic science
  • Aquatic toxicology
  • Benthos
  • Bioluminescence
  • Biomass
  • Cascade effect
  • Colored dissolved organic matter
  • Dead zone
  • Ecohydrology
  • Eutrophication
  • Fisheries science
  • Food chain
  • Food web
  • GIS and aquatic science
  • Hydrobiology
  • Hypoxia
  • Isotope analysis
  • Microbial ecology
  • Microbial food web
  • Microbial loop
  • Nekton
  • Neuston
  • Particle
  • Photic zone
  • Phytoplankton
  • Plankton
  • Productivity
  • Ramsar Convention
  • Schooling
  • Sediment trap
  • Siltation
  • Spawning
  • Substrate
  • Thermal pollution
  • Trophic level
  • Underwater camouflage and mimicry
  • Water column
  • Zooplankton
  • More...
Freshwater
  • Freshwater ecosystems
  • Brackish marsh
  • Freshwater biology
  • Freshwater biomes
  • Freshwater fish
  • Freshwater marsh
  • Freshwater swamp forest
  • Hyporheic zone
  • Lake ecosystems
  • Landscape limnology
  • Limnology
  • Lake stratification
  • Macrophyte
  • Pond
  • Fish pond
  • Rheotaxis
  • River ecosystems
  • Stream bed
  • Stream pool
  • Trophic state index
  • Upland and lowland
  • Water garden
  • Wetland
  • Environmental quality
  • More...
Ecoregions
  • Freshwater ecoregions
  • List of freshwater ecoregions
  • Marine ecoregions
  • List of marine ecoregions
  • Ecology of the Everglades
  • Ecology of the San Francisco Estuary
  • Ecosystem of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre
  • Freshwater ecology of Maharashtra
Aquatic ecosystems – marine components
Marine
  • Marine ecosystem
  • f-ratio
  • Iron fertilization
  • Iron Hypothesis
  • Large marine ecosystem
  • Marine biology
  • Marine chemistry
  • Marine snow
  • Ocean nourishment
  • Oceanic physical-biological process
  • Ocean turbidity
  • Photophore
  • Thorson's rule
  • Upwelling
  • Whale fall
  • More...
Marine
life forms
  • Census of Marine Life
  • Coastal fish
  • Coral reef fish
  • Deep sea communities
  • Deep sea creature
  • Deep sea fish
  • Deep-water coral
  • Demersal fish
  • Marine bacteriophage
  • Marine invertebrates
  • Marine larval ecology
  • Marine mammal
  • Marine reptile
  • Marine vertebrate
  • Paradox of the plankton
  • Pelagic fish
  • Seabird
  • Seashore wildlife
  • Wild fisheries
Marine
habitats
  • Bay mud
  • Black smokers
  • Coastal biogeomorphology
  • Cold seeps
  • Coral reefs
  • Davidson Seamount
  • Estuaries
  • Intertidal ecology
  • Intertidal wetlands
  • Kelp forests
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • Lagoons
  • Mangroves
  • Marine biomes
  • Marine habitats
  • Mudflats
  • Rocky shores
  • Salt marshes
  • Seagrass meadows
  • Sponge reefs
  • Tide pools
Issues
  • Ecological values of mangrove
  • Fisheries and climate change
  • HERMIONE
  • Marine conservation
  • Marine conservation activism
  • Marine pollution
  • Marine Protected Area
Modelling ecosystems – trophic components
General
  • Abiotic component
  • Abiotic stress
  • Behaviour
  • Biogeochemical cycle
  • Biomass
  • Biotic component
  • Biotic stress
  • Carrying capacity
  • Competition
  • Ecosystem
  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Ecosystem model
  • Keystone species
  • List of feeding behaviours
  • Metabolic theory of ecology
  • Productivity
Producers
  • Autotrophs
  • Chemosynthesis
  • Chemotrophs
  • Foundation species
  • Mixotrophs
  • Myco-heterotrophy
  • Mycotroph
  • Organotrophs
  • Photoheterotrophs
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosynthetic efficiency
  • Phototrophs
  • Primary nutritional groups
  • Primary production
Consumers
  • Apex predator
  • Bacterivore
  • Carnivores
  • Chemoorganotroph
  • Foraging
  • Generalist and specialist species
  • Intraguild predation
  • Herbivores
  • Heterotroph
  • Heterotrophic nutrition
  • Insectivore
  • Mesopredator release hypothesis
  • Omnivores
  • Optimal foraging theory
  • Predation
  • Prey switching
Decomposers
  • Chemoorganoheterotrophy
  • Decomposition
  • Detritivores
  • Detritus
Microorganisms
  • Archaea
  • Bacteriophage
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Lithoautotroph
  • Lithotrophy
  • Microbial cooperation
  • Microbial ecology
  • Microbial food web
  • Microbial intelligence
  • Microbial loop
  • Microbial mat
  • Microbial metabolism
  • Phage ecology
Food webs
  • Biomagnification
  • Ecological efficiency
  • Ecological pyramid
  • Energy flow
  • Food chain
  • Trophic level
Example webs
  • Cold seeps
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • Intertidal
  • Kelp forests
  • Lakes
  • North Pacific Subtropical Gyre
  • Rivers
  • San Francisco Estuary
  • Soil
  • Tide pool
Processes
  • Ascendency
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Cascade effect
  • Climax community
  • Competitive exclusion principle
  • Consumer-resource systems
  • Copiotrophs
  • Dominance
  • Ecological network
  • Ecological succession
  • Energy quality
  • Energy Systems Language
  • f-ratio
  • Feed conversion ratio
  • Feeding frenzy
  • Mesotrophic soil
  • Nutrient cycle
  • Oligotroph
  • Paradox of the plankton
  • Trophic cascade
  • Trophic mutualism
  • Trophic state index
Defense/counter
  • Animal coloration
  • Antipredator adaptations
  • Camouflage
  • Deimatic behaviour
  • Herbivore adaptations to plant defense
  • Mimicry
  • Plant defense against herbivory
  • Predator avoidance in schooling fish
Modelling ecosystems – other components
Population ecology
  • Abundance
  • Allee effect
  • Depensation
  • Ecological yield
  • Effective population size
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Logistic function
  • Malthusian growth model
  • Maximum sustainable yield
  • Overpopulation in wild animals
  • Overexploitation
  • Population cycle
  • Population dynamics
  • Population modeling
  • Population size
  • Predator–prey equations
  • Recruitment
  • Resilience
  • Small population size
  • Stability
Species
  • Biodiversity
  • Density-dependent inhibition
  • Ecological effects of biodiversity
  • Ecological extinction
  • Endemic species
  • Flagship species
  • Gradient analysis
  • Indicator species
  • Introduced species
  • Invasive species
  • Latitudinal gradients in species diversity
  • Minimum viable population
  • Neutral theory
  • Occupancy-abundance relationship
  • Population viability analysis
  • Priority effect
  • Rapoport's rule
  • Relative abundance distribution
  • Relative species abundance
  • Species diversity
  • Species homogeneity
  • Species richness
  • Species distribution
  • Species-area curve
  • Umbrella species
Species interaction
  • Antibiosis
  • Biological interaction
  • Commensalism
  • Community ecology
  • Ecological facilitation
  • Interspecific competition
  • Mutualism
  • Storage effect
Spatial ecology
  • Biogeography
  • Cross-boundary subsidy
  • Ecocline
  • Ecotone
  • Ecotype
  • Disturbance
  • Edge effects
  • Foster's rule
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Ideal free distribution
  • Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis
  • Island biogeography
  • Landscape ecology
  • Landscape epidemiology
  • Landscape limnology
  • Metapopulation
  • Patch dynamics
  • r/K selection theory
  • Source–sink dynamics
Niche
  • Ecological niche
  • Ecological trap
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Environmental niche modelling
  • Guild
  • Habitat
  • Marine habitats
  • Limiting similarity
  • Niche apportionment models
  • Niche construction
  • Niche differentiation
Other networks
  • Assembly rules
  • Bateman's principle
  • Bioluminescence
  • Ecological collapse
  • Ecological debt
  • Ecological deficit
  • Ecological energetics
  • Ecological indicator
  • Ecological threshold
  • Ecosystem diversity
  • Emergence
  • Extinction debt
  • Kleiber's law
  • Liebig's law of the minimum
  • Marginal value theorem
  • Thorson's rule
  • Xerosere
Other
  • Allometry
  • Alternative stable state
  • Balance of nature
  • Biological data visualization
  • Constructal theory
  • Ecocline
  • Ecological economics
  • Ecological footprint
  • Ecological forecasting
  • Ecological humanities
  • Ecological stoichiometry
  • Ecopath
  • Ecosystem based fisheries
  • Endolith
  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Functional ecology
  • Industrial ecology
  • Macroecology
  • Microecosystem
  • Natural environment
  • Regime shift
  • Systems ecology
  • Theoretical ecology
List of ecology topics

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