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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 44:1-9 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/ame044001

Seasonal changes in the functional diversity of bacterioplankton in contrasting coastal environments of the NW Mediterranean

M. Montserrat Sala*, Marta Estrada, Josep M. Gasol

Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar-CMIMA (CSIC), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37–49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT: To understand the seasonal and intersite variations in the functional diversity of coastal bacterioplankton assemblages, their utilization of 31 different carbon sources was analyzed with Biolog-Ecoplates™ in waters from 3 harbours and 2 oligotrophic coastal environments of the NW Mediterranean. Polymers (α-cyclodextrin and glycogen) and carbohydrates (d-cellobiose and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine) were most utilized in the harbours, while carboxylic acids were mainly used in the coastal areas. Seasonal differences in the patterns of carbon source utilization (the so-called ‘functional diversity’) were investigated in 2 spatially close, but contrasting, coastal stations: the oligotrophic coastal site of Blanes Bay, and the Barcelona inner harbour. The existence of a possible seasonal trend in functional diversity of bacterioplankton in the oligotrophic coastal station, but not in the harbour, suggests that the bacterial assemblage of oligotrophic environments can adapt to changing inputs of nutrients and DOC. In contrast, the low water exchange in the harbour provides a pool of DOC of relatively stable composition throughout the year which could allow few potential bacterial metabolisms to persist. We considered the quantity of substrates used (of all those provided in the Biolog plate) as an index of potential functional diversity. The index calculated for the harbour and the coastal station samples was negatively correlated with chlorophyll a concentration, suggesting that the bacterial assemblages of oligotrophic systems have a higher number of metabolic pathways in order to be able to exploit a wide variety of DOC molecules present at low concentrations.

KEY WORDS: Bacterioplankton · Biolog · Coastal carbon · Functional diversity · Carboxylic acids

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