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Effect of food preservation on the grazing behavior and on the gut flora of the harpacticoid copepod Paramphiascella fulvofasciata

Cnudde, Clio, Willems, Anne, Van Hoorde, Koenraad, Vyverman, Wim, Moens, Tom, De Troch, Marleen
Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology 2011 v.407 no.1 pp. 63-69
Copepoda, diet, intestinal microorganisms, aquaculture, freeze drying, aquatic food webs, industry, grazing, raw foods, energy efficiency, wages and remuneration, food preservation, feces, palatability, Bacillariophyceae, bacteria
Harpacticoids owe their ‘reputation’ as primary consumers in aquatic food webs to their substantial grazing on diatoms, thus assuring an efficient energy flow to higher trophic levels. Due to the complex feeding behavior of harpacticoids, the nature and dynamics of diatom–harpacticoid trophic interactions remain poorly understood. In addition, there is a growing interest from aquaculture industry in mass-culturing harpacticoids with algal foods but the labor costs of maintaining algal stock cultures are high. This study focuses on the palatability of preserved diatoms for copepods and considers the possible role of bacterially mediated effects on diatom food uptake. The grazing of Paramphiascella fulvofasciata on a preserved freeze-dried diatom diet was tested and compared to the grazing on fresh cells. P. fulvofasciata assimilated the preserved diet, but assimilation of fresh cells was higher. When both cell types were mixed, no selective feeding was observed. Community fingerprinting of the bacteria associated with diatoms and fecal pellets suggests that the copepod gut flora was modified depending on the food source. Furthermore, the results suggest that the egestion of gut bacteria enriches the microenvironment and this can have an additional influence on the feeding behavior of the copepod. Experimental research using preserved foods must take into account that copepod grazing assimilations of fresh foods are likely to be significantly higher. Yet, the stated high assimilation of the mixed diet, encourages further exploration of the application of preserved ‘balanced’ foods for harpacticoid mass-culturing.