Differing preferences of Antarctic soil nematodes for microbial prey
We tested the preferences of three nematode taxa, Geomonhystera villosa, Plectus spp. and Teratocephalus spp., extracted from moss at Signy Island in the Maritime Antarctic, for two microalgae, three microfungi and six heterotrophic bacteria, each also from soils at Signy Island. Choice test experiments on water agar medium, in which nematodes were enumerated in wells containing microbes at 24 and 48 h, indicated that there were differing preferences between nematodes for distinct prey. G. villosa was significantly attracted to the alga Chlorella cf. minutissima and the fungus Mortierella hyalina, and was more attracted to all algae and fungi than either of the other two nematodes. Both G. villosa and Teratocephalus spp. were attracted to an actinobacterium. Plectus spp. were significantly attracted to the alga Stichococcus bacillaris and bacteria with close taxonomic affinities to Arthrobacter, Pseudomonas and Polaromonas. Experiments using 0.5 μm diameter fluorescent beads indicated significantly increased ingestion by nematodes in the presence of each of these microbes compared with controls, except by Plectus spp. in the presence of S. bacillaris. We conclude that complex trophic interactions may occur in apparently simple Antarctic soil food webs.
Authors: Newsham, Kevin K., Rolf, Jochen, Pearce, David A., Strachan, Rodney J.