Coherent patterns in bacterial growth, growth efficiency, and leucine metabolism along a northeastern Pacific inshore-offshore transect

del Giorgio, Paul A., Robert Condon, Thierry Bouvier, Krista Longnecker, Corinne Bouvier, Evelyn Sherr, and Josep M. Gasol

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(1), 2011, 1-16 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.1.0001

ABSTRACT: We investigated the patterns in bacterial growth, production, respiration, growth efficiency (BGE), and bacterial leucine respiration and C-to-leucine yield (i.e., conversion factor [CF]) along a transect off the coast of Oregon. Plankton respiration along the transect averaged 1.15 ± 0.16 mg C L-1 h-1, peaking in the coastal upwelling region. The respiration in the filtered fraction, which was dominated by bacterial biomass, accounted for 79% of the total respiration. The different approaches that we used converged to an average BGE of 13% ± 1%, with peaks of over 20% in the more productive coastal areas and values declining to below 5% toward the oligotrophic gyre waters. There was overall coherence between the various aspects of bacterial C metabolism: communities with low BGE also tended to have low growth rates and high leucine-to-thymidine incorporation ratios. The patterns in BGE were mirrored at the single compound level, and in the most oligotrophic sites, bacteria tended to quickly respire a large fraction (20-75%) of the leucine that was taken up and had the lowest C-to-leucine yield, suggesting that the patterns in bulk BGE and growth also apply to individual substrates. Bacterial growth was a function of both C consumption and BGE; these two aspects of bacterial C metabolism do not necessarily covary, and they are regulated differently. The patterns in C consumption, growth, BGE, and leucine metabolism all reflect the basic physiological response of bacteria to energy limitation due to high maintenance costs associated with life in oligotrophy.

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