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Environ Microbiol. 2012 Jun;14(6):1500-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02738.x. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Tracking differential incorporation of dissolved organic carbon types among diverse lineages of Sargasso Sea bacterioplankton.

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Marine Science Institute and Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


Bacterioplankton are the primary trophic conduit for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and linking community structure with DOC utilization is central to understanding global carbon cycling. We coupled stable isotope probing (SIP) with 16S rRNA pyrosequencing in dark seawater culture experiments on euphotic and mesopelagic communities from the Sargasso Sea. Parallel cultures were amended with equimolar quantities of four DO(13) C substrates to simultaneously evaluate community utilization and population-specific incorporation. Of the substrates tested - two cyanobacterial products (exudates or lysates from a culture of Synechococcus) and two defined monosaccharides (glucose or gluconic acid) - the cyanobacterial exudates were incorporated by the greatest diversity of oligotrophic bacterioplankton populations in surface waters, including taxa from > 10 major subclades within the Flavobacteria, Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia and Proteobacteria (including SAR11). In contrast, the monosaccharide glucose was not incorporated by any taxa belonging to extant oligotrophic oceanic clades. Conversely, proteobacterial copiotrophs, which were rare in the ambient water (< 0.1% of sequences), grew rapidly on all DOC amendments at both depths, but with different substrate preferences among lineages. We present a new analytical framework for using SIP to detect DOC incorporation across diverse oligotrophic bacterioplankton and discuss implications for the ecology of bacterial-DOC interactions among populations of diverging trophic strategies.

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