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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Nov;58(11):3647-53.

Incorporation of [h]leucine and [h]valine into protein of freshwater bacteria: field applications.

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Department of Ecology and Molecular Biology, Section of Microbiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C., Denmark.


Incorporation of leucine and valine into proteins of freshwater bacteria as a measure of bacterial production was tested in two eutrophic Danish lakes and was related to bacterial production measured by thymidine incorporation. In a depth profile (0 to 8 m) in Frederiksborg Castle Lake, incorporation of 100 nM leucine and valine gave similar rates of protein production. In terms of carbon, this production was about 50% lower than incorporation of 10 nM thymidine. In another depth profile in the same lake, incorporations of 10 nM valine and 100 nM leucine were identical, but differed from incorporations of 10 nM leucine and 100 nM valine. Bacterial carbon production calculated from incorporations of 10 nM thymidine and 10 nM leucine was similar, whereas 10 nM valine and 100 nM leucine and valine indicated an up to 2.4-fold-higher rate of carbon production. In a diel study in Lake Bagsvaerd, incorporation of 100 nM leucine and valine indicated a similar protein production, but the calculated carbon production was about 1.9-fold higher than the production based on uptake of 10 nM thymidine. Different diel changes in incorporation of the two amino acids and in incorporation of thymidine were observed. In both lakes, concentrations of naturally occurring leucine and valine were <5 nM in most samples. This means that the specific activity of a H isotope added at a concentration of 100 nM usually was diluted a maximum of 5%. Net assimilation of natural free amino acids in the lakes sustained 8 to 69% of the net bacterial carbon requirement, estimated from incorporation of leucine, valine, or thymidine. The present results indicate that incorporation of leucine and valine permits realistic measurements of bacterial production in freshwater environments.


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