Freshwater Reviews, Vol 1, No 1 (2008)

Microorganisms of the East African Great Lakes and their response to environmental changes

Jean-Pierre Descy, Hugo Sarmento
DOI: 10.1608/FRJ-1.1.4 | Pages: 59-73


We have reviewed the phytoplankton composition and succession in the East African Great Lakes, their response to environmental changes, and the communities of microorganisms of the microbial food web.  Recent studies in some great lakes, as well as progress in understanding phytoplankton succession and response to environmental factors, enable us to update knowledge of the phytoplankton ecology of these lakes.  In particular, we present information indicating that phytoplankton composition in lakes Tanganyika and Kivu may reflect recent changes as a result of global warming or species introduction.  We also stress the importance of microbes (at the base of the food web) in these systems and suggest that the microbial food web, which has been mostly overlooked until recently, may play a very large role in determining productivity and nutrient cycling in these large lakes.