Marine photosynthetic microalgae are ubiquitously associated with bacteria in nature. However, the influence of these bacteria on algal cultures in bioreactors is still largely unknown. In this study, eighteen different bacterial strains were isolated from cultures of Nannochloropsis sp. CCAP211/78 in two outdoor pilot-scale tubular photobioreactors. The majority of isolates was affiliated with the classes Alphaproteobacteria and Flavobacteriia. To assess the impact of the eighteen strains on the growth of Nannochloropsis sp. CCAP211/78, 24-well plates coupled with custom-made LED boxes were used to simultaneously compare replicate axenic microalgal cultures with addition of individual bacterial isolates. Co-culturing of Nannochloropsis sp. CCAP211/78 with these strains demonstrated distinct responses, which shows that the technique we developed is an efficient method for screening the influence of harmful/beneficial bacteria. Two of the tested strains, namely a strain of Maritalea porphyrae (DMSP31) and a Labrenzia aggregata strain (YP26), significantly enhanced microalgal growth with a 14% and 12% increase of the chlorophyll concentration, respectively, whereas flavobacterial strain YP206 greatly inhibited the growth of the microalga with 28% reduction of the chlorophyll concentration. Our study suggests that algal production systems represent a ‘natural’ source to isolate and study microorganisms that can either benefit or harm algal cultures.