, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 397–409 | Cite as

Factors Controlling the Year-Round Variability in Carbon Flux Through Bacteria in a Coastal Marine System

  • Laura Alonso-Sáez
  • Evaristo Vázquez-Domínguez
  • Clara Cardelús
  • Jarone Pinhassi
  • M. Montserrat Sala
  • Itziar Lekunberri
  • Vanessa Balagué
  • Maria Vila-Costa
  • Fernando Unrein
  • Ramon Massana
  • Rafel Simó
  • Josep M. GasolEmail author


Data from several years of monthly samplings are combined with a 1-year detailed study of carbon flux through bacteria at a NW Mediterranean coastal site to delineate the bacterial role in carbon use and to assess whether environmental factors or bacterial assemblage composition affected the in situ rates of bacterial carbon processing. Leucine (Leu) uptake rates [as an estimate of bacterial heterotrophic production (BHP)] showed high interannual variability but, on average, lower values were found in winter (around 50 pM Leu−1 h−1) as compared to summer (around 150 pM Leu−1 h−1). Leu-to-carbon conversion factors ranged from 0.9 to 3.6 kgC mol Leu−1, with generally higher values in winter. Leu uptake was only weakly correlated to temperature, and over a full-year cycle (in 2003), Leu uptake peaked concomitantly with winter chlorophyll a (Chl a) maxima, and in periods of high ectoenzyme activities in spring and summer. This suggests that both low molecular weight dissolved organic matter (DOM) released by phytoplankton, and high molecular weight DOM in periods of low Chl a, can enhance BHP. Bacterial respiration (BR, range 7–48 μg C l−1 d−1) was not correlated to BHP or temperature, but was significantly correlated to DOC concentration. Total bacterial carbon demand (BHP plus BR) was only met by dissolved organic carbon produced by phytoplankton during the winter period. We measured bacterial growth efficiencies by the short-term and the long-term methods and they ranged from 3 to 42%, increasing during the phytoplankton blooms in winter (during the Chl a peaks), and in spring. Changes in bacterioplankton assemblage structure (as depicted by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting) were not coupled to changes in ecosystem functioning, at least in bacterial carbon use.


bacterioplankton production respiration carbon marine seasonality growth efficiency coastal 



This work was supported by the Spanish projects MicroDiff (REN2001-2110/MAR), ESTRAMAR (CTM2004-12631/MAR), GENμMAR (CTM2004-02586/MAR) and MODIVUS (CTM2005-04975/MAR), EU project BASICS (EVK3-CT-2002-00078), and NoE MARBEF. Financial support was provided by a PhD fellowship from the Spanish government to L.A.S. We thank X.A.G. Morán and M. Estrada for their help with the primary production measurements, J. Felipe for technical support with flow cytometry, I. Forn for her help with field sampling, C. Pedrós-Alió for general support and encouragement, and to two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Alonso-Sáez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Evaristo Vázquez-Domínguez
    • 1
  • Clara Cardelús
    • 1
  • Jarone Pinhassi
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. Montserrat Sala
    • 1
  • Itziar Lekunberri
    • 1
  • Vanessa Balagué
    • 1
  • Maria Vila-Costa
    • 1
    • 4
  • Fernando Unrein
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ramon Massana
    • 1
  • Rafel Simó
    • 1
  • Josep M. Gasol
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departament de Biologia Marina i OceanografiaInstitut de Ciències del Mar-CMIMA, CSICBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Marine Microbiology, Department of Biology and Environmental SciencesUniversity of KalmarKalmarSweden
  4. 4.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  5. 5.IIB-INTECH, ChascomúsBuenos AiresArgentina

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