AME 21:257-264 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/ame021257

Exposure of natural Antarctic marine microbial assemblages to ambient UV radiation: effects on bacterioplankton

A. T. Davidson*, A. van der Heijden

Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia

ABSTRACT: Seasonal ozone depletion over Antarctica leads to enhanced UVB (280 to 320 nm) radiation throughout the period of greatest biological production. The effect of UV radiation on bacterioplankton has received little attention, and its effects on marine microheterotrophs and viruses, which mediate bacterial biomass, are poorly understood. This study examined the impact of ambient solar UV radiation on bacterioplankton in natural Antarctic microbial communities. Following a lag of 2 d, bacterial concentrations increased all light treatments. Inhibition of bacterial growth increased with increasing UV irradiance and duration of exposure, reaching 27% inhibition in high UV treatments (≤2.0 m equivalent depth) compared to controls after 7 d exposure. Bacterioplankton growth rates declined in all treatments during post-UV incubation, particularly at lower UV irradiances (≥3.0 m equivalent depth), indicating UV-induced inhibition of bacterial mortality during irradiation. Positive bacterial growth coincided with both phytoplankton mortality and increased microheterotroph concentrations following exposure to high UV irradiances. Exposure of Antarctic microbial communities to ambient UV is likely to increase microbial respiration of carbon in surface waters and reduce vertical carbon flux.


KEY WORDS: Bacteria · UV radiation · Antarctic · Plankton


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