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Environ Microbiol. 2009 Apr;11(4):867-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01807.x. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Ecophysiological differences of betaproteobacterial populations in two hydrochemically distinct compartments of a subtropical lagoon.

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Limnological Station, Institute of Plant Biology, Seestr. 187, CH-8802 Kilchberg, Switzerland.


We studied the population sizes and substrate incorporation patterns of three phylogenetic groups of Betaproteobacteria in a coastal subtropical lagoon that is characterized by a sharp transition from humic freshwater to turbid brackish water. Various cellular processes were addressed by short-term incubations with four radiolabelled compounds and microautoradiographic assessment of substrate incorporation. Group-specific differences in the abundances and the respective physiological state of the three populations were observed upon transfer from the humic-rich compartment to the main body of the lagoon (estimated at 1-2 days). Members of the clade B of Polynucleobacter (PnecB) experienced only an insignificant change in cell numbers, but displayed a general metabolic downshift, carbon metabolism (glucose incorporation) being most affected. By contrast, bacteria from the closely related Polynucleobacter C clade (PnecC) clearly differed in total abundances and in the numbers of DNA-synthesizing or glucose incorporating cells. At the same time, PnecC bacteria maintained comparable levels of protein synthesis (leucine uptake) in both lagoon compartments, and the proportion of cells incorporating N-acetylglucosamine was even higher in the main body of the lagoon. Members of the R-BT lineage showed little changes in cell numbers, DNA synthesis and carbon metabolism. Altogether, the observed patterns of substrate metabolism suggest that different bacterial populations in the lagoon undergo specific physiological adjustments in response to changing environmental conditions.

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