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Microb Ecol. 2006 Apr;51(3):336-44. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

The response of Vibrio- and Rhodobacter-related populations of the NW Mediterranean Sea to additions of dissolved organic matter, phages, or dilution.

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GBF--German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Department of Environmental Microbiology, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124, Braunschweig, Germany.


We investigated the growth response of the heterotrophic prokaryotic community focusing on Vibrio- and Rhodobacter-related populations (SRF3) to variation in the availability of dissolved organic matter (DOM), population density-dependent effects, and prokaryotic virus (phage) infection in coastal and offshore waters of the NW Mediterranean Sea. We tested the response of the prokaryotic community to three different DOM fractions prepared by ultrafiltration. One of the DOM fractions contained phages (<0.2 m), a second was virus-free (<100 kDa), and a third contained only low molecular weight (<1 kDa). The proportion of Vibrio and SRF3 populations as determined by fluorescent in situ hybridization in the community ranged from <1 to 6.2% and from 3.2 to 6.3%, respectively. Based on changes in cell numbers, growth rates ranged from 2.1 to 3.1 day(-1) for Vibrio and from 0.8 to 1.2 day(-1) for SRF3. Growth rates of Vibrio were similar or higher than those of the total prokaryotic community, whereas the ability of Vibrio to use high molecular weight (HMW) DOM and the responses to additions of phage-rich material were lower. Growth rates of SRF3 were lower than that of the community. Susceptibility to infection of SRF3 was sometimes lower than in the community, whereas the growth stimulation of HMW DOM was similar or lower. Reducing the cell concentrations of the prokaryotic community by dilution stimulated the overall growth of the community, including that of its constituent Vibrio and SRF3 populations, but the effect was smaller on the SRF3 and greater on Vibrio populations than for the total community. Comparisons with the community also revealed that life strategy traits of bacterial populations differed between coastal and offshore waters. Overall, our data suggest that Vibrio is an r-strategist or opportunistic population in the NW Mediterranean Sea, whereas SRF3 is a K-strategist or equilibrium population.

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