Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 135–145 | Cite as

Nutrient control of bacterioplankton and phytoplankton dynamics

  • Michael T. Brett
  • Fred S. Lubnow
  • Manuel Villar-Argaiz
  • Anke Müller-Solger
  • Charles R. Goldman


To determine whether positive correlations between phytoplankton and bacterioplankton growth in nutrient addition experiments are due to growth coupling or growth stimulation by the same nutrients, we examined phyto- and bacterioplankton growth in a series of eleven nutrient addition (N × P) and light/dark experiments. In mesotrophic Castle Lake, the phyto- and bacterioplankton growth responses to phosphorus (P) addition were strongly correlated (r2=0.59), while only a weak correlation (r2=0.10) was observed for the nitrogen addition treatments. After normalizing the N + P treatments for the growth stimulation observed in the respective P treatments, we found a substantial stimulation of the phytoplankton (e.g., costimulation by N + P) and no stimulation of the bacterioplankton. Bacteria growth rates were similar in both light and dark incubated P treatments. In these experiments, we found clear evidence suggesting the dynamics of bacteria and phytoplankton were correlated because they are often limited by the same resource (mainly inorganic phosphorus). We found only limited evidence that bacterioplankton growth coupling to algal dynamics was occurring in these experiments. However, we did not consider several factors such as dissolved organic nutrient availability, bacterivory, availability of physical substrates, and temperature which are also thought to influence the nature of bacterial/phytoplankton interactions. Based on the results of our experiments, we conclude the biomass of the bacterio- and phytoplankton covaried because they were stimulated by the same nutrients.


Bacterial Abundance Dark Treatment Clear Lake Microb Ecol Growth Coupling 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Brett
    • 1
  • Fred S. Lubnow
    • 2
  • Manuel Villar-Argaiz
    • 2
  • Anke Müller-Solger
    • 2
  • Charles R. Goldman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil & Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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