MEPS 141:183-192 (1996)  -  doi:10.3354/meps141183

Photoinhibition of marine nitrifying bacteria. I. Wavelength-dependent response

Guerrero MA, Jones RD

Axenic cultures of chemolithotrophic nitrifying bacteria (NH4+ and NO2- oxidizers) respond to light in distinct manners. After short-term (2 to 4 h) monochromatic irradiations both types of nitrifying bacteria demonstrated a widespread photosensitivity in the near-UV region (300 to 375 nm) and a differential photosensitivity in the blue region of the spectrum (400 to 475 nm). Nitrite oxidizers were less sensitive overall to blue light inhibition than were ammonium oxidizers. Characteristically, the extent of the photoinhibition was species-specific and light response was dose- and wavelength-dependent. Photoprotection by higher substrate concentrations was only observed with ammonium oxidizers. Increased cell densities altered the phototolerance of nitrite oxidizers and made these organisms light-susceptible. Similarly, treatment with a low light dose for extended periods was more damaging to nitrite oxidizers, when high cell densities were used. Polychromatic irradiations served to confirm the monochromatic results. Cool-white fluorescent light inhibited NH4+ oxidizing activity but not NO2- oxidizing activity. Exposure to sunlight resulted in inhibition of activity in both types of nitrifiers. These data demonstrate that the effect of light on autotrophic nitrification depends not only on the type of nitrifier (NH4+ or NO2- oxidizer), but also on the conditions of their environment.

Nitrification · Photoinhibition · Nitrifying bacteria

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