We conducted a field survey of periphyton cultivated on benthic mesh installations in freshwater aquatic systems, including two constructed wetlands and a pond, and also studied periphyton grown on a benthic mesh in laboratory mesocosms. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine if periphyton cultivated on benthic mesh denitrifies at higher rates than the underlying sediments and (2) determine if denitrification rates within periphyton vary with characteristics such as algal and bacterial community structure and biomass. We measured denitrification potential rates of field and laboratory periphyton by the acetylene inhibition method. We characterized algal community composition by algal identification and bacterial community composition by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms. Periphyton collected on benthic mesh from our field sites denitrified at significantly higher rates than the underlying sediments, regardless of sampling site or season. Results from both our field survey and laboratory studies indicated a significant, positive correlation between diatom presence and denitrification rate. In our laboratory studies, we found that periphyton with the highest diatom abundance showed the highest denitrification rates as well as a distinct bacterial community composition. These results suggest a synergistic relationship between diatoms and denitrifying bacteria that warrants further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science