, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 51-63

Competition of marine psychrophilic bacteria at low temperatures

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The occurrence of obligately and facultatively psychrophilic bacteria in the marine environment suggests that environmental conditions exist which can favour each of these groups in competitive processes. Differences were found in the way in which temperature affected the growth rates of obligate and facultative psychrophiles. Maximum specific growth rates of a number of obligately and facultatively psychrophilic bacteria were determined in batch culture and competition experiments were carried out in a chemostat at growth-limiting substrate concentrations. From the results the relation between the specific growth rate and the concentration of the growth-limiting substrate for both types of organisms at different temperatures was deduced. Both at low and high substrate concentrations obligate psychrophiles grew faster than facultative psychrophiles at the lower temperature extreme (⩽ 4 C). These results suggest that obligately psychrophilic chemoorganotrophs are responsible for mineralization processes in cold natural environments such as ocean waters and the arctic and antarctic regions. In these environments they can successfully compete with facultative psychrophiles because they can grow faster.

We are indebted to Mrs. I. van der Werff-Staverman for skilled technical assistance and to Dr. I. J. Higgins for help in correcting the English manuscript.