The effect of bacterial and diatom biofilms on the settlement of the bryozoan Bugula neritina

Hans U. Dahms, Sergey Dobretsov, Pei Yuan Qian

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113 Citations (Scopus)


Biofilms of marine bacteria and diatoms and their combinations were examined in laboratory choice assays to determine their effects on the attachment and successful metamorphosis of the larvae of the bryozoan Bugula neritina (Linnéus). The larval settlement in response to unfilmed surfaces, a natural biofilm (NBF) and adsorbed cells of three strains of bacteria, five strains of pennate diatoms and combinations of the two at different densities. Bacterial and diatom strains showed different effects on the larval settlement of B. neritina. Bacterial monospecific strains of an unidentified α-Proteobacterium and Vibrio sp. mediated the same percentage of settlement as a filtered seawater control. Biofilms of Pseudoalteromonas sp. caused significantly lower larval settlement. Larval settlement of B. neritina was negatively correlated with increasing densities of Pseudoalteromonas sp. The highest percentages of settlement were mediated by the biofilms of the diatom species Achnanthes sp., Amphora cofeaeformis, Amphora tenerrima, Nitzschia constricta and a 5-day-old natural biofilm, while the lowest settlement was found on a N. frustulum film. A three-way analysis of variance demonstrated that the density of bacteria and the presence of particular species of diatoms and bacteria in combined biofilms, significantly affected the settlement of B. neritina larvae. High settlement of larvae (50-90%) at all treatments indicated that B. neritina larvae are much more indiscriminate settlers than previously expected. Hence, using this species as a monitoring organism to trace ecologically relevant subtle changes of settlement cues in the natural environment should be carefully re-examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-209
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Attachment
  • Bacteria
  • Bryozoan larvae
  • Bugula neritina
  • Diatoms
  • Monospecies biofilms
  • Settlement
  • Two-species biofilms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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