Main content area

Diurnal Variation of Cell Proliferation in Three Bacterial Taxa from Coastal North Sea Waters

Pernthaler, Annelie, Pernthaler, Jakob
Applied and environmental microbiology 2005 v.71 no.8 pp. 4638-4644
DNA, Roseobacter, bacteria, cell proliferation, diurnal variation, fluorescence in situ hybridization, population growth, seawater, North Sea
Pulse-labeling with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) in combination with fluorescence in situ hybridization was applied to quantify the percentage of proliferating cells in coastal North Sea waters. In order to assess diurnal variability, we sampled eight or nine times, respectively, within 3 consecutive days at two seasons. Bacteria affiliated with the Roseobacter, SAR86, and NOR5 lineages constituted on average 19% ± 3%, 8% ± 2%, and 6% ± 1% of all cells in May 2002 and 17% ± 3%, 10% ± 2%, and 11% ± 3% in August. The relative abundances of the three populations either remained stable, or they changed very gradually during the observation periods. On average, 38 and 39% of all Bacteria exhibited DNA de novo synthesis in May and August, respectively. The fractions of proliferating cells in bacteria of the SAR86 (May, 59%; August, 72%) and the Roseobacter (48 and 53%) lineages were significantly above the community average. A substantial cell proliferation of population NOR5 (34%) was only encountered in August, concomitant with a dinoflagellate bloom. Significant short-term fluctuations of DNA-synthesizing cells were observed in Roseobacter during May and in NOR5 during August, hinting at a pronounced (temporal or spatial) mesoscale patchiness of growth rates in these populations. Since the BrdU proliferation assay is susceptible to misinterpretation, we also modeled the expected number of labeled cells at increasing BrdU incubation times in a slowly growing bacterial population. We suggest that the absence of visible DNA synthesis in marine bacterioplankton cells after DNA pulse-labeling must not be interpreted as an indication of cell "inactivity."