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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Jun;73(12):3936-44. Epub 2007 Apr 27.

Aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria attached to particles in turbid waters of the Delaware and Chesapeake estuaries.

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  • 1College of Marine and Earth Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA.


Aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic (AAP) bacteria are photoheterotrophs that, if abundant, may be biogeochemically important in the oceans. We used epifluorescence microscopy and quantitative PCR (qPCR) to examine the abundance of these bacteria by enumerating cells with bacteriochlorophyll a (bChl a) and the light-reaction center gene pufM, respectively. In the surface waters of the Delaware estuary, AAP bacteria were abundant, comprising up to 34% of prokaryotes, although the percentage varied greatly with location and season. On average, AAP bacteria made up 12% of the community as measured by microscopy and 17% by qPCR. In the surface waters of the Chesapeake, AAP bacteria were less abundant, averaging 6% of prokaryotes. AAP bacterial abundance was significantly correlated with light attenuation (r=0.50) and ammonium (r=0.42) and nitrate (r=0.71) concentrations. Often, bChl a-containing bacteria were mostly attached to particles (31 to 94% of total AAP bacteria), while usually 20% or less of total prokaryotes were associated with particles. Of the cells containing pufM, up to 87% were associated with particles, but the overall average of particle-attached cells was 15%. These data suggest that AAP bacteria are particularly competitive in these two estuaries, in part due to attachment to particles.

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