FEMS microbiology ecology

Are freshwater bacterioplankton indifferent to variable types of amino acid substrates?

PMID 26738554


A wide range of carbon compounds sustain bacterial activity and growth in freshwater ecosystems and the amount and quality of these substrates influence bacterial diversity and metabolic function. Biologically labile low-molecular-weight compounds, such as dissolved free amino acids, are particularly important substrates and can fuel as much as 20% of the total heterotrophic production. In this study, we show that extensive laboratory incubations with variable amino acids as substrates caused only minimal differences in bacterial growth rate, growth yield, quantitative amino acid usage, community composition and diversity. This was in marked contrast to incubations under dark or light regimes, where significant responses were observed in bacterial community composition and with higher diversity in the dark incubations. While a few individual taxa still responded to amendment with specific amino acids, our results suggest that compositional shifts in the specific supply of amino acids and possibly also other labile organic substrates have a minor impact on heterotrophic bacterioplankton communities, at least in nutrient rich lakes and compared to other prevailing environmental factors.