Imbalance between phytoplankton production and bacterial carbon demand in relation to mucilage formation in the Northern Adriatic Sea.Sci Total Environ. 2005 Dec 15; 353(1-3):162-77.ST
Spatial and temporal changes in phytoplankton production and bacterial C demand were investigated at four stations in the Northern Adriatic Sea over 3 years. The effect of the Po River plume was observed at the western stations; in particular, the northernmost one (B06) showed the highest values of primary production, both as hourly peaks (up to 14 mg C m(-3) h(-1)) and daily water column integrated values (up to 740 mg C m(-2) day(-1)), the southern station (C04) was only sporadically influenced and did not differ significantly from the easternmost ones (C12 and B13), where the lowest TPP values were recorded (around 1 mg C m(-3) h(-1)). In this study the first in situ data are reported on short-term phytoplankton C extra cellular release in the Northern Adriatic Sea. At every station a considerable percentage of primary production (PER>20% as an average, with peaks of up to 70%) was released as dissolved organic carbon. In particular, an association of fairly high PER (>10%) and specific production (Pb>10 mg C mg chl(-1) h(-1)) was observed from spring to summer, when the mucilage phenomenon usually starts. This result might suggest the presence of an uncoupling between photosynthesis and growth, probably related with nutrient availability, which would be responsible for a high production of extra cellular organic carbon. Phytoplankton primary production and bacterial carbon production were closely related and bacterial C production accounted, on average, for a higher percentage of primary production than the values typically reported in the literature on aquatic environments. The flow of organic matter from phytoplankton to bacteria seems to satisfy the bacterial carbon demand during most of the spring and summer, at least in the upper water layers. However, during the summer, there is evidence that BCD sometimes exceeds the amount of C produced by phytoplankton. Neither phytoplankton nor bacterial production showed significant differences over the relevant years, and their absolute values did not change when comparing periods with or without mucilage. However, there were indications of an uncoupling between phytoplankton photosynthesis and growth and of a shift from an autotrophic to a heterotrophic metabolism, especially during the spring and summer period when mucilage might occur.