AME 17:13-26 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/ame017013

Coupling between bacterioplankton species composition, population dynamics, and organic matter degradation

Jarone Pinhassi1, Farooq Azam2, Johanna Hemphälä3, Richard A. Long2, Josefina Martinez2, Ulla Li Zweifel3, Åke Hagström3,*

1Department of Microbiology, Umeå University, S-90187 Umeå, Sweden
2Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0202, USA
3Marine Science, Kalmar University, Box 905, S-39129 Kalmar, Sweden
*Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: To study the effect of substrate addition on short term bacterial population dynamics and species composition in seawater, mesocosms were maintained with water collected off Scripps Pier (La Jolla, California, USA). Protein enrichment (BSA) triggered a dynamic response from the microbial food web, whereas enrichment with starch had no effect. In the protein enriched mesocosm the number of both nucleoid-containing cells and metabolically active cells increased by 3.0 x 105 cells ml-1 from Day 1 to Day 4. In the same time period the density of a set of 31 phylogenetically different bacteria (a- and γ-Proteobacteria as well as Flexibacter-Cytophaga-Bacteroides) increased by 3.5 x 105 cells ml-1. The abundance of these isolated bacteria accounted for up to 89% of the nucleoid-containing cells, and up to 22% of the total counts. Increased enzyme activities, most notably protease, were found concomitant with a change in bacterial species composition over 3 d. This short term succession was possible due to rapid net growth rates of single bacterial species in the mesocosm (0.48 to 1.6 d-1), which was up to 5 times higher than the community turnover calculated from bacterial production and total counts. These results should provide support for studies of actual bacterial population dynamics on the species level and its role in the degradation of organic matter in the aquatic environment.

KEY WORDS: Bacterioplankton · Species · Growth · Hybridization

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