Microbial Ecology

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 277–288 | Cite as

Bacterial Versus Archaeal Origin of Extracellular Enzymatic Activity in the Northeast Atlantic Deep Waters

  • Federico Baltar
  • Javier Arístegui
  • Josep M. Gasol
  • Taichi Yokokawa
  • Gerhard J. Herndl
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


We determined the total and dissolved extracellular enzymatic activity (EEA) of α-glucosidase and β-glucosidase (AGase and BGase), alkaline phosphatase (APase) and leucine aminopeptidase (LAPase) activities in the epi-, meso- and bathypelagic waters of the subtropical Northeast Atlantic. EEA was also determined in treatments in which bacterial EEA was inhibited by erythromycin. Additionally, EEA decay experiments were performed with surface and deep waters to determine EEA lifetimes in both water masses. The proportion of dissolved to total EEA (66–89 %, 44–88 %, 57–82 % and 86–100 % for AGase, BGase, APase and LAPase, respectively) was generally higher than the cell-associated (i.e., particulate) EEA. The percentage of dissolved to total EEA was inversely proportional to the percentage of erythromycin-inhibited to total EEA. Since erythromycin-inhibited plus dissolved EEA equaled total EEA, this tentatively suggests that cell-associated EEA in the open oceanic water column is almost exclusively of bacterial origin. The decay constants of dissolved EEA were in the range of 0.002–0.048 h−1 depending on the type of extracellular enzyme, temperature and depth in the water column. Although dissolved EEA can have different origins, the major contribution of Bacteria to cell-associated EEA and the long life-time of dissolved EEA suggest that Bacteria—and not mesophilic Archaea—are essentially the main producers of EEA in the open subtropical Northeast Atlantic down to bathypelagic layers.


Erythromycin Particulate Organic Carbon Dissolve Organic Matter Extracellular Enzymatic Activity Suspended Particulate Organic Matter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was carried out in the frame of the IMBER-endorsed Spanish project CAIBEX (CTM2007-66408-C02-02) “Plan Nacional de I + D” (MEC), coordinated by J.A. Partial support was obtained by a grant of the Earth and Life Science Division of the Dutch Science Foundation (ALW-NWO; ARCHIMEDES project, 835.20.023) and the ESF MOCA project and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) projects: I486-B09 and P23234-B11 to G.J.H., by the project STORM (CTM2009-09352/MAR) to J.M.G., a predoctoral Fellowship of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (AP2005-3932) and a postdoctoral grant under the MOCA (Microbial Oceanography of ChemolithoAutotrophic planktonic Communities; ESF – Eurocores Program Evolutionary and Ecological Functional Genomics) project to F.B. We thank the captain and crew of the R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa for their support at sea, and M.F. Montero for the flow-cytometry analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federico Baltar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Javier Arístegui
    • 1
  • Josep M. Gasol
    • 3
  • Taichi Yokokawa
    • 4
  • Gerhard J. Herndl
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaGran CanariaSpain
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems, EEMiSLinnaeus UniversityKalmarSweden
  3. 3.Departament de Biologia Marina i OceanografiaInstitut de Ciències del Mar—CSICBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Biological OceanographyRoyal Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchDen BurgThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Marine Biology, Faculty Center of EcologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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