The phototrophic consortium "Chlorochromatium aggregatum" was enriched from sediment samples of a eutrophic freshwater lake and was maintained at high numbers in anoxic sulfide-reduced medium. Growth of intact consortia was observed only in the light and in the presence of 2-oxoglutarate as an organic carbon source. Consortia of "C. aggregatum" reached maximum growth rates at light intensities >/= 5 &mgr;mol quanta m-2 s-1. Of ten compounds tested, sulfide, thiosulfate, 2-oxoglutarate, and citrate served as a chemoattractant for "C. aggregatum". When incubated in the presence of sulfide and in the light, epibionts reduced the fluorochrome 5-cyano-2, 3-di-4-tolyl-tetrazolium chloride (CTC). Reduction of CTC was not observed in the presence of the uncoupler carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) or in the dark, indicating that sulfide serves as an electron donor for the phototrophic epibiont. Motile consortia accumulated scotophobically in microcuvettes at a wavelength of 740 nm. Since this wavelength corresponds to the position of the absorption maximum of bacteriochlorophylls c or d, the photosynthetic pigments are most likely the photoreceptors of the scotophobic response. It is concluded that, within the consortia, a rapid interspecies signal transfer occurs between the nonmotile, green-colored epibiont and the motile, colorless central bacterium.