Bacterial Production in the Marine Food Chain: The Emperor’s New Suit of Clothes?

  • Peter J. leB. Williams
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 13)


Writers on biological oceanography and modellers of the marine food chain have been hesitant and uncertain of the importance of bacterial processes, indeed of microbial processes in general. There are good reasons for this. Marine bacteria are most probably among the smallest free-living organisms in the biosphere. Until comparatively recently the determination of their numbers and biomass has been difficult. The measurement of bacterial activity is even more problematic, the techniques specialized and their interpretation difficult if not obscure. Thus, the acceptance by non-microbiologists that bacteria may play a significant role in the marine food chain has been, and to some extent still is, an act of faith. Understandably and probably quite rightly biological oceanographers in the past have been cautious in incorporating a significant microbial component into conceptual or other models of the pelagic food chain.


Conversion Efficiency Food Chain Bacterial Production Marine Bacterium Bacterial Activity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. leB. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean SciencesMcKown PointWest Boothbay HarborUSA

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