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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 189:9-16 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps189009

Production of exopolymer particles by marine bacterioplankton under contrasting turbulence conditions

Karen E. Stoderegger, Gerhard J. Herndl*

Department of Biological Oceanography, Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
*Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: It has recently been shown that marine bacterioplankton release copious amounts of capsular material as 'semi-labile' to 'refractory' dissolved organic carbon (DOC) into the ambient water. The fate of this bacterioplankton-derived DOC remains largely unknown. Here we investigate the capability of this bacterial-derived capsular DOC to coagulate to exopolymer particles under contrasting turbulence regimes. Under high turbulence, fewer but larger particles (>2 µm in diameter) were detected, while the total exopolymer particle-mass (>0.2 µm) was higher under stagnant conditions. Under stagnant conditions most of the bacterial-derived particles remained in the size-class between 0.2 and 2 µm. The production rate of exopolymer particles was estimated to amount to about 4 amol C cell-1 h-1, representing about 25% of the previously estimated bacterioplankton DOC release of about 15 amol C cell-1 h-1. Considering that bacterioplankton represent the largest living surface in the ocean, the release and subsequent coagulation of bacterioplankton-derived capsular DOC might be an important, thus far largely neglected mechanism of exopolymer particle formation in the ocean.

KEY WORDS: Particle formation · Bacterioplankton · Exopolymer · Elzone particle counter · Alcian Blue · Toluidine Blue · Turbulence · DOM · Colloidal

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