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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 236:13-22 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps236013

Production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) by benthic diatoms: effect of irradiance and temperature

Kirsten Wolfstein*, Lucas J. Stal

Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
*Present address: Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment (RIZA), PO Box 17, 8200 AA Lelystad, The Netherlands. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: An axenic culture of Cylindrotheca closterium and a natural community of benthic diatoms were used to study the effect of temperature and irradiance on the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). In the culture, results depended on the growth stage of the algae and on whether absolute values or biomass-related values were considered. The highest amount of EPS (standing stock) was produced at 15 and 25°C during early stationary growth phase. When EPS concentrations were normalized to chlorophyll a (chl a), maximum values were measured at 4 and 10°C. Independent of temperature the ratios (EPS:chl a) decreased with increasing age of the culture. Additionally, differences between the investigated temperatures were less pronounced in older cultures. A field sample of benthic diatoms was used to study: (1) the combined effect of temperature and irradiance on primary production and excretion of EPS; and (2) the partitioning of photosynthetically fixed carbon (C) into different fractions of intracellular and extracellular C pools by using a short-term 14C incorporation. Again highest values of primary production and EPS (production rates) were measured at 25°C. At lower irradiances, the temperature of 35°C had an inhibitory effect on the production rates of all fractions. In the culture as well as in the natural sample, the fraction of EPS that was closely bound to the cells (attached EPS) and the soluble fraction (colloidal EPS) were produced in different amounts at the different temperatures. This suggested that the production of the 2 operationally defined fractions of EPS might serve different functions, e.g. for migration or for storage of reserve products.

KEY WORDS: Benthic diatoms · Cylindrotheca closterium · Extracellular polymeric substances · EPS · Irradiance · Temperature

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