AME 22:175-184 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/ame022175

Responses of bacterioplankton and phytoplankton to organic carbon and inorganic nutrient additions in contrasting oceanic ecosystems

David A. Caron1,*, Ee Lin Lim1,2, Robert W. Sanders2, Mark R. Dennett3, Ulrike-G. Berninger4

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF 301, Los Angeles, California 90089-0371, USA
2Temple University, Department of Biology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, USA
3Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
4Institut für Meereskunde, Abteilung Meeresbotanik, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

ABSTRACT: Experiments were carried out on Georges Bank, a productive coastal region in the northwestern sector of the North Atlantic Ocean, and in the oligotrophic western Sargasso Sea to examine the effects of nutrient (inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus) and organic carbon (glucose) additions on bacterial and phytoplankton growth. Four experiments were conducted in each environment. Phytoplankton growth was monitored over a 36 h period by following changes in the concentration of chlorophyll in unfiltered seawater and in seawater prefiltered through 5 μm screening to reduce grazing pressure. Bacterial production was estimated initially and after 24 h using the 3H-thymidine (TdR) method in unfiltered seawater and in 1 μm filtrate. Phytoplankton biomass increased significantly in response to nutrient additions in all but 1 experiment, whereas chlorophyll concentrations remained unchanged or decreased in all of the unamended (control) treatments or treatments supplemented with glucose. Responses of the phytoplankton community were similar for the <5 μm and unfiltered treatments. Bacterial production increased after 24 h in all of the treatments on Georges Bank, and there was little effect of nutrient or glucose addition in unfiltered seawater relative to unamended controls. However, glucose addition to the <1 μm filtrate caused substantial increases in bacterial production relative to controls and N/P-amended treatments in 2 of the experiments from this environment. Glucose had no stimulatory effect (relative to unamended treatments) in 3 of the 4 Sargasso Sea experiments, and only a marginal effect in the fourth. However, the addition of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus in the latter ecosystem resulted in higher bacterial production (relative to unamended treatments or glucose addition) in 2 of the experiments with unfiltered seawater, and very large increases in 3 of the experiments with 1 μm filtrate. The magnitude of the changes in bacterial production differed greatly between unfiltered and filtered seawater in both ecosystems, indicating an important role for bacterial grazers in controlling bacterial population growth. The results of this study indicate different nutritional restraints on bacterial production in these contrasting environments.

KEY WORDS: Bacteria · Phytoplankton · Nutrients · Microbial growth · Bacterial production · Georges Bank · Sargasso Sea

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