Seasonal changes in the abundance and composition of marine heterotrophic bacterial communities in an Antarctic coastal area

Research paper by D. Delille

Indexed on: 01 Sep '93Published on: 01 Sep '93Published in: Polar biology


During a 1-year period, systematic observations of the Antarctic coastal marine bacterioplankton were recorded. Three field stations were sampled weekly in 1989 in “Terre Adélie” area. The survey included physicochemical (temperature and particulate organic matter) and bacteriological (total and heterotrophic counts, estimation of bacterial production) measurements. The bacterial community structure was investigated by carrying out 27 morphological and biochemical tests on 254 strains isolated during each season. Gram-negative non-fermentative rods were always dominant. However, an obvious difference exists between the communities inhabiting ice-free and ice-covered seawater. The potential metabolic abilities which were relatively significant in the summer community were severely reduced in the winter community. A general increase in bacterial biomass and production was observed in surface water after sea ice formation. The results suggest a close coupling between heterotrophic bacterioplankton and the input of allochthonous organic carbon, for example from the overlying sea-ice communities or from nearby penguin rookeries.