Main content area

Concentration-Dependent Patterns of Leucine Incorporation by Coastal Picoplankton

Alonso, Cecilia, Pernthaler, Jakob
Applied and environmental microbiology 2006 v.72 no.3 pp. 2141-2147
Euryarchaeota, bacteria, dissolved organic carbon, leucine, niches, seasonal variation, spring, North Sea
Coastal pelagic environments are believed to feature concentration gradients of dissolved organic carbon at a microscale, and they are characterized by pronounced seasonal differences in substrate availability for the heterotrophic picoplankton. Microbial taxa that coexist in such habitats might thus differ in their ability to incorporate substrates at various concentrations. We investigated the incorporation patterns of leucine in four microbial lineages from the coastal North Sea at concentrations between 0.1 and 100 nM before and during a spring phytoplankton bloom. Community bulk incorporation rates and the fraction of leucine-incorporating cells in the different populations were analyzed. Significantly fewer bacterial cells incorporated the amino acid before (13 to 35%) than during (23 to 47%) the bloom at all but the highest concentration. The incorporation rate per active cell in the prebloom situation was constant above 0.1 nM added leucine, whereas it increased steeply with substrate concentration during the bloom. At both time points, a high proportion of members of the Roseobacter clade incorporated leucine at all concentrations (55 to 80% and 86 to 94%, respectively). In contrast, the fractions of leucine-incorporating cells increased substantially with substrate availability in bacteria from the SAR86 clade (8 to 31%) and from DE cluster 2 of the Flavobacteria-Sphingobacteria (14 to 33%). The incorporation patterns of marine Euryarchaeota were between these extremes (30 to 56% and 48 to 70%, respectively). Our results suggest that the contribution of microbial taxa to the turnover of particular substrates may be concentration dependent. This may help us to understand the specific niches of coexisting populations that appear to compete for the same resources.