Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles


Diel Relationships of Microbial Trophic Groups and In Situ Dissolved Carbohydrate Dynamics in the Caribbean Sea

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Marine Biology







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Dissolved total carbohydrate (TCHO), polysaccharide (PCHO), monosaccharide (MCHO) and organic carbon (DOC) were determined at 3-h intervals over 5 diel cycles in the mixed layer of the northwestern Caribbean Sea while following a drogued buoy. These data have been compared to populations of phototrophic (PNAN) and heterotrophic (HNAN) nanoplankton (2–20 μm diameter) and heterotrophic bacteria (HBAC) (0.2–2.0 μm diameter) estimated by epifluorescence counts, as well as to ΣCO2, phosphate, chlorophyll a and phaeopigment data determined simultaneously. Two different types of apparent diel dissolved carbohydrate (CHO) patterns were found. On 3 d when no sustained net ΣCO2 uptake was evident, TCHO and PCHO generally declined during the afternoon and early evening while MCHO tended to increase. On two other days when apparent sustained ΣCO2 uptake occurred during the day, there were large evening TCHO and PCHO peaks with constant or declining MCHO levels. These accumulations probably resulted from the release of recently produced PCHO from phototrophs. As was found earlier in the Sargasso Sea, PNAN populations were inversely related to PCHO concentrations. The sample to sample fluctuations of PNAN also were inversely related to the apparent rates of change of TCHO and PCHO, possibly due to an inverse relation between the rates of PNAN cell division and CHO excretion. Fluctuations in HBAC populations were inversely correlated with PCHO dynamics and directly related to MCHO variations, possibly due to extracellular hydrolysis of PCHO to MCHO during periods of rapid bacterial growth as well as to net heterotrophic PCHO uptake. A direct relationship between HNAN and TCHO fluctuations suggests the importance of HNAN excretion in the release of dissolved organics. The combined PNAN and HBAC fluctuations accounted for a more significant fraction of the variance in the apparent rates of change of PCHO than did any single population parameter indicating that intimate interactions between the microbial plankton groups are important in the in-situ regulation of CHO dynamics. Total system net TCHO release and uptake rates for 5 d averaged 56 and 53 μg C l-1 d-1 respectively, assuming that the observed fluctuations resulted from temporal planktonic processes in homogeneous water masses. While the data contain indications that this was the case, this assumption is not definitive.


©Springer-Verlag 1982

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NSF grant #s:OCE-7826388, OCE-7681779



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