Response of heterotrophic and autotrophic microbial plankton to inorganic and organic inputs along a latitudinal transect in the Atlantic Ocean
1Departamento Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo, Campus Lagoas-Marcosende 36310 Vigo, Spain
2Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Xixón, Camín de L'Arbeyal s/n, 33212 Xixón, Spain
*Present address: Department of Biological Oceanography, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, The Netherlands; and Department of Marine Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Abstract. The effects of inorganic and/or organic nutrient inputs on phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria have never been concurrently assessed in open ocean oligotrophic communities over a wide spatial gradient. We studied the effects of potentially limiting inorganic (nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, silica) and organic nutrient (glucose, aminoacids) inputs added separately as well as jointly, on microbial plankton biomass, community structure and metabolism in five microcosm experiments conducted along a latitudinal transect in the Atlantic Ocean (from 26° N to 29° S).
Primary production rates increased up to 1.8-fold. Bacterial respiration and microbial community respiration increased up to 14.3 and 12.7-fold respectively. Bacterial production and bacterial growth efficiency increased up to 58.8-fold and 2.5-fold respectively. The largest increases were measured after mixed inorganic-organic nutrients additions. Changes in microbial plankton biomass were small as compared with those in metabolic rates. A north to south increase in the response of heterotrophic bacteria was observed, which could be related to a latitudinal gradient in phosphorus availability. Our results suggest that organic matter inputs will result in a predominantly heterotrophic versus autotrophic response and in increases in bacterial growth efficiency, particularly in the southern hemisphere. Subtle differences in the initial environmental and biological conditions are likely to result in differential microbial responses to inorganic and organic matter inputs.