MEPS 212:89-105 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps212089

Bacterial dynamics during the transition from spring bloom to oligotrophy in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea: relationships with particulate detritus and dissolved organic matter

France Van Wambeke1,*, Madeleine Goutx1, Laurent Striby1, Richard Sempéré1, Francesca Vidussi2

1Microbiologie Marine, CNRS, UMR 6117, Campus de Luminy, Case 907, 13 288 Marseille Cedex 9, France
2Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche, Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie Marines, URA CNRS 2076, BP 08, 06 238 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

ABSTRACT: The variability in microbial communities (abundance and biomass), bacterial production and ectoaminopeptidase activity, particulate and dissolved organic carbon (POC, DOC), and particulate and dissolved lipids was examined in spring 1995 in the northwestern Mediterranean, where a transition from the end of a bloom to pre-oligotrophic conditions was observed. Four time series of 36 h each and 4 h sampling intervals were performed at 5 m and at the chlorophyll maximum (30 m) between 11 and 31 May. Simultaneous measurements of pigments, abundance of hetero- and autotrophic flagellates, bacteria and POC enabled the estimation of living POC (defined as autotrophic-C plus heterotrophic-C biomass), and thus the detrital organic carbon. During the first 2 time series (11 to 15 May), the bacterial-C biomass was higher than the autotrophic-C biomass at 5 m (ratio 1.4 and 1.7), whereas the opposite trend was observed in the chlorophyll peak (ratio 0.7 for the first cycle). However, at the end of May, autotrophic-C biomass was equivalent to bacterial-C biomass at both depths studied. The detrital pool remained a more or less constant fraction of the POC (52, 53 and 47% on 11-12 May, 14-15 May and 30-31 May) at the chlorophyll peak, whereas it decreased significantly with time (62 to 53%) at 5 m. Relationships between bacterial activities and evolution of available resources were not systematically evidenced from our 36 h diel cycle data. Nevertheless, at the monthly scale, comparison of bacterial carbon demand (BCD) to potential carbon resources (detrital POC and DOC) showed that bacteria fed differently on the various pools. From ectoaminopeptidase turnover rates and detrital POC, the potential hydrolysis rate of detritus was calculated. Depending on the choice of conversion factors for bacterial production and estimates of hydrolysis turnover rates, it was shown that bacterial hydrolysis of detritus could be one of the DOC accumulation sources. We observed that the percentage of BCD supplied by detrital POC hydrolysis increased in the surface and decreased in the chlorophyll peak. An index of lipid degradation in POC, the lipolysis index, increased during the month at 5 m, also indicating a higher hydrolysis of POC. The opposite trend was observed in the chlorophyll maximum layer. The selective decrease in dissolved lipids in DOC in the chlorophyll maximum layer, particularly free fatty acids, also suggests that bacteria utilized increased fractions of carbon sources from the DOC. We concluded that partitioning between DOC and detritus as resources for bacteria can change during the rapid transition period from mesotrophy to oligotrophy in the northwestern Mediterranean.

KEY WORDS: Particulate detritus · Ectoaminopeptidase activity · Bacterial production · Lipids · Pigments · Northwestern Mediterranean

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