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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 269:1-15 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps269001

Distribution of microbial biomass, production, respiration, dissolved organic carbon and factors controlling bacterial production across a geostrophic front (Almeria-Oran, SW Mediterranean Sea)

France Van Wambeke1,*, Dominique Lefèvre2, Louis Prieur3, Richard Sempéré1, Micheline Bianchi1, Kadija Oubelkheir3, Flavienne Bruyant3

1Laboratoire de Microbiologie Marine, CNRS, UMR 6117, Centre d¹Océanologie de Marseille, Case 907, Campus de Luminy, 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, France
2Laboratoire d'Océanographie et de Biogéochimie, UMR 6535, Centre d¹Océanologie de Marseille, Case 901, Campus de Luminy, 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, France
3Laboratoire d¹Océanographie de Villefranche, CNRS, UMR 7093, Observatoire Océanologique, BP 08, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

ABSTRACT: Microbial distribution and activities were examined in relation to the hydrodynamic conditions in the Almeria-Oran frontal area (AOF), SW Mediterranean Sea, during winter. The main objectives were to explore factors limiting bacterial growth and activities (production, ectoenzymatic activity, utilization and respiration of amino acids) in regard to dissolved organic carbon (DOC) stocks and lability in different parts of the Almeria-Oran front-jet system. The vertical distribution of total chl a, bacterial abundance and production reflected the density profiles, with a deepening of the top of the pycnocline from 25 (front) to 120 m (gyre). At the frontal site, most bacterial production was concentrated within the first 20 m (up to 19.8 nmol C l-1 h-1), at the boundary between the jet and Mediterranean waters, whereas bacterial abundance peaked in a wider layer (40 m) in the jet core (up to 15 × 105 bacteria ml-1). Integrated bacterial production ranged from 5.7 to 17.9 mmol C m-2 d-1 in the 0 to 200 m layer in the meander of the Atlantic jet and in its associated anticyclonic gyre, compared to 4.3 to 5.8 mmol C m-2 d-1 in typical Mediterranean waters. Heterotrophic bacteria were limited by phosphorus in the surface layers of the front and Mediterranean waters. Shipboard experiments using <0.8 µm filtered seawater incubated in the dark showed a high growth potential of the heterotrophic bacteria within the jet and the jet-gyre boundaries. Increased DOC accumulation (from 12 to 21 µM excess DOC = surface minus deep refractory DOC) occurred at the jet-gyre boundaries. From the jet towards the gyre, the decrease in potential ectoaminopeptidase activity was less than that of bacterial production, indicating that there was a greater dependence on polymeric DOC. Only the typical Mediterranean site, outside of the jet and gyre influences, was clearly net heterotrophic.

KEY WORDS: Winter · Western Mediterranean · Almeria-Oran front · Bacterial production · Ectoaminopeptidase · Respiration · Bacterial limitation · Dissolved organic carbon

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