AME 61:13-29 (2010)  -  DOI:

Subtidal microphytobenthos: effects of inorganic and organic compound supplies on migration, production, and respiration in a tropical coastal environment

Solveig Bourgeois1, Sébastien Hochard1, Olivier Pringault1,2,*

1UR 103 Camélia, Centre IRD de Nouméa, Promenade Roger Laroque, BP A5, 98848 Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia
2Present address: UMR 5119 Ecolag, Université Montpellier 2, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer Station Méditerranéenne de l’Environnement Littoral 2, rue des chantiers 34200 Sète, France
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Microphytobenthos (MPB) is an important primary producer in coastal ecosystems. In oligotrophic environments, its activity may be controlled by the availability of organic or inorganic compounds but also by its migration behavior. The objective of this study was to determine, in MPB-colonized subtidal sediments, the consequences of short-term enrichments (<24 h) of organic (alanine, glutamate, and glucose) and inorganic (ammonium, phosphate) compounds on MPB vertical migration and metabolisms, net production (NP), areal gross production (AGP), and community respiration (R). Two contrasting stations located in the southwest lagoon of New Caledonia were investigated: 1 under strong anthropogenic influence and 1 under more oceanic influence. Both stations were dominated by epipelic diatoms. Differences in net primary production were explained by diurnal variation of MPB biomass at the sediment surface, showing the importance of MPB migration in the functioning of these subtidal environments. However, a stimulation or inhibition of MPB migration did not necessarily impact the net primary production of the system; this strongly depends upon the interactions between the autotrophic and heterotrophic compartments, the latter being controlled by the environmental conditions. For the station under low anthropogenic influence, AGP and R were both significantly stimulated by alanine, glucose, and ammonium, and significantly inhibited by phosphate. The similar responses of AGP and R to enrichments suggest that autotrophs and heterotrophs were tightly coupled. Conversely, in the station under strong anthropogenic influence, AGP and R responded differently. Addition of ammonium inhibited AGP without having an impact on R, whereas addition of phosphate inhibited R whilst having no measurable effect on AGP. In this station, the coupling between autotrophs and heterotrophs was weakened, suggesting that the carbon demand of the heterotrophic compartment is probably sustained by the supplies of allochthonous organic matter rather than by exudates from the autotrophic compartment.

KEY WORDS: Nutrients · Amino acids · Glucose · Autotroph–heterotroph coupling · Oxygen microelectrode · Reflectance

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Cite this article as: Bourgeois S, Hochard S, Pringault O (2010) Subtidal microphytobenthos: effects of inorganic and organic compound supplies on migration, production, and respiration in a tropical coastal environment. Aquat Microb Ecol 61:13-29.

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