.... the concept of a “microbial loop” as an integral part of pelagic food webs. This idea solidified the notion that heterotrophic microbes-bacteria, bacterivorous flagellates, and ciliate consumers of the flagellates – serve primarily as a pathway for regeneration of organic nitrogen, phosphorous, and other bioactive elements, and represented a shunt of carbon and energy from the main phytoplankton-based food web.
p.9; in ....
Kirchman D.L., Williams P.J.B.; 2000; Introduction; in Kirchman D.L. (ed); Microbial Ecology of the Oceans; Willey-Liss Inc.; New York – USA;