Nitrogen Source for a Detritivore: Detritus Substrate Versus Associated Microbes

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Science  22 Oct 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4570, pp. 371-373
DOI: 10.1126/science.218.4570.371


Detritivores have been thought to derive nutrition from microbes associated with detrital particles and not from the nonliving plant substrate. The polychaete Capitella capitata, however, was found to derive a major portion of its nitrogen from the plant substrate when it feeds on detritus derived from seaweed. Microbes play a role as a nitrogen source for this detritivore when it feeds on detritus derived from marsh grass.