Nitrogen and phosphorus co-limitation of bacterial productivity and growth in the Oligotrophic Sub-Tropical North Atlantic

Mills, Matthew M., Moore, C. M., Langlois, Rebecca, Milne, A., Achterberg, Eric P., Nachtigall, Kerstin, Lochte, Karin, Geider, R. J. and LaRoche, Julie (2008) Nitrogen and phosphorus co-limitation of bacterial productivity and growth in the Oligotrophic Sub-Tropical North Atlantic Limnology and Oceanography, 53 . pp. 824-834. DOI 10.4319/lo.2008.53.2.0824.

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Bacterial productivity and biomass are thought to be limited by dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in much of the world’s oceans. However, the mixed layer of oligotrophic oceans is often depleted in dissolved inorganic nitrogen and phosphate, raising the possibility that macronutrients may also limit heterotrophic bacterial growth. We used nutrient bioassay experiments to determine whether inorganic nutrients (N, P, Fe) and/or DOC could limit bacterial productivity and biomass in the central North Atlantic during the spring of 2004 (Mar–Apr). We observed that both heterotrophic bacterial productivity and biomass were co-limited by N and P in the oligotrophic North Atlantic, and additions of labile DOC (glucose) provided no stimulation unless N and P were also added. Flow cytometry results indicated that only a small subset of large cells high in nucleic acid content were responsible for the increased productivity in the combined NP amendments. In contrast, nutrient additions elicited no net change on the dominant component of the bacterial population, composed of small cells with relatively low nucleic acid content. In the combined NP treatments the relative increase in bacterial production was greater than that measured when phytoplankton productivity was relieved of nitrogen limitation. These results suggest that N and P co-limitation in the bacterial community results in increased competition between the heterotrophic and autotrophic components of the surface communities in the Central North Atlantic Ocean, and potentially impacts the cycling of organic matter by the bacterioplankton.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: R.V. Meteor; M60
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.2.0824
ISSN: 0024-3590
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:50
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2015 13:37

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