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Review on Periphyton as Mediator of Nutrient Transfer in Aquatic Ecosystems

Author(s): Surjya K. Saikia

Journal: Ecologia Balkanica
ISSN 1313-9940

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 65;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Biofilm | bacteria | algae | nutrient stoichiometry | diffusive boundary layer | periphytic succession

In the studies of aquatic ecology, periphyton has been uncared for despite its vital role in nutrient uptake and transfer to the upper trophic organisms. Being the component of food chain as attached organism it takes part in nutrient cycling in the ecosystem like that of suspended planktonic counterparts. The present review, with an aim to understand the role of periphyton in nutrient transfer from benthic environment to upper trophic level, focuses many aspects of periphyton-nutrient relationship based on available literatures. It also attempts to redefine periphyton, as a part of biofilm, harboring nutrient components like protein, fat and carbohydrate preferably in its extracellular polymeric substance (EPS), cyanobacteria, diatom and other algal communities. In addition to physical processes, nutrient uptake by periphyton is catalyzed by enzymes like Nitrogen Reductase and Alkaline Phosphatase from the environment. This uptake and transfer is further regulated by periphytic C: nutrient (N or P) stoichiometry, colonization time, distribution of periphyton cover on sediments and macrophytes, macronutrient concentration, grazing, sloughing, temperature, and advective transport. The Carbon (C) sources of periphyton are mainly dissolve organic matter and photosynthetic C that enters into higher trophic levels through predation and transfers as C-rich nutrient components. Despite of emerging interests on utilizing periphyton as nutrient transfer tool in aquatic ecosystem, the major challenges ahead for modern aquatic biologists lies on determining nutrient uptake and transfer rate of periphyton, periphytic growth and simulating nutrient models of periphyton to figure a complete energy cycle in aquatic ecosystem.
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