AME 24:117-127 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/ame024117

Quantitative mapping of bacterioplankton populations in seawater: field tests across an upwelling plume in Monterey Bay

Marcelino T. Suzuki, Christina M. Preston, Francisco P. Chavez, Edward F. DeLong*

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Rd., PO Box 628, Moss Landing, California 95039, USA
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Few methods are available for quantifying specific prokaryotic taxa in marine plankton samples. In this study, we report a novel sampling and analysis strategy that circumvents some of the difficulties associated with current methods. This new approach allows for increased spatial, temporal and phylogenetic resolution over what has been achievable in routine bacterioplankton surveys. Picoplankton from small volume samples (30 ml) were collected on polysulfone filters and DNA was extracted with a commercially available DNA purification kit. The contribution of different bacterioplankton members at the group and subgroup levels was quantified by 5¹ nuclease assays. Percentages of small subunit (SSU) rDNAs from SAR11, SAR86, Roseobacter, Cytophaga and Synechococcus clades in DNA extracted from small samples were compared with SSU rDNA in DNA samples extracted from 6 to 9 l seawater. Only small differences were observed between the methods. The approach was also tested by estimating gene copy numbers in a seawater sample spiked with varying numbers of cells from a cultivated marine Roseobacter strain. Finally we measured SSU rDNAs from the same groups of marine bacterioplankton in samples from a rapid survey of an upwelling plume in Monterey Bay, California, USA. A strong negative correlation between the percentage of Cytophagales and recently upwelled water, and an overlap between higher SAR86 percentages and a chlorophyll a concentration peak was found. The results confirm that rapid mapping of specific bacterioplankton groups is achievable using small samples and 5¹ nuclease assays.


KEY WORDS: Bacterioplankton diversity · Coastal upwelling


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