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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Aug;9(8):2050-66.

A comparative study of the cytometric characteristics of high and low nucleic-acid bacterioplankton cells from different aquatic ecosystems.

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Laboratoire Ecosystèmes Lagunaires, UMR5119 CNRS-UM2, Université Montpellier 2, case 093, 34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France.


Flow cytometry has revealed the existence of two distinct fractions of bacterioplankton cells, characterized by high and low nucleic acid contents (HNA and LNA cells). Although these fractions seem ubiquitous in aquatic systems, little is known concerning the variation in the cytometric parameters used to characterize them. We have performed cytometric analyses of samples from a wide range of aquatic systems to determine the magnitude and variability in the cytometric characteristics of HNA/LNA. We show that neither group is associated to a fixed level of fluorescence and of light scatter. Rather, the relative position of HNA and LNA in the fluorescence versus side scatter cytograms varies greatly, both within and among ecosystems. Although the cytometric parameters of both groups tend to covary, there is often uncoupling between the two, particularly in light scatter. Our results show that, although the basic HNA/LNA configuration is present in most samples, its cytometric expression changes greatly in different ecosystems and along productivity gradients. The patterns in cytometric parameters do not support the simple, dichotomous view of HNA and LNA as active and inactive cells, or the notion of two distinct and independent communities, but rather suggest that there may be cells that are intrinsic to each fraction, as well as others that may exchange between fractions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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