The effect of temperature on the coupling between phosphorus and growth in lacustrine bacterioplankton communities

Hall, Edward K., Andrew R. Dzialowski, Samuel M. Stoxen, James B. Cotner

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(3), 2009, 880-889 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.3.0880

ABSTRACT: Phosphorus (P) routinely limits microbial growth in freshwater ecosystems. The growth rate hypothesis (GRH) relates growth to biomass P content mechanistically through changes in ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA). Although the GRH has been shown in cultured bacteria, less well understood is how GRH relationships are affected by interactions with environmental parameters such as temperature. To address this, we evaluated the relationship between bacterial biomass P, RNA: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) ratio, and growth rate in 47 northern temperate lakes. Although RNA:DNA ratio was positively correlated with bacterial biomass P : carbon (C), we found no correlation between growth rate and RNA:DNA or between growth rate and biomass P : C. There was, however, a significant effect of temperature on biomass P : C. We investigated the effect of temperature more directly using filter-separated bacterial communities from two lakes during two seasons while experimentally manipulating temperature and resources. For the summer communities, bacterial production (BP) and biomass P were positively correlated, and the slope of that relationship increased with increasing temperature. In winter communities, BP and biomass P were again positively correlated; however, the slope of that relationship decreased with increasing temperature. The slope of the relationship between BP and biomass P is a metric of nutrient use efficiency and was strongly influenced by temperature. More importantly, bacterioplankton demonstrated seasonal acclimation or adaptation to in situ temperature, suggesting that studies evaluating multiple communities in time and space fail to find a clear relationship between temperature and bacterial metabolism because bacterial communities are locally adapted to in situ temperature.

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