Respiration in the light and bacterio-phytoplankton coupling in a coastal environment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In pelagic ecosystems, the principal source of organic matter is via autotrophic production and the primary sink is through heterotrophic respiration. One would therefore anticipate that there is some degree of linkage between these two compartments. Recent work has shown that respiration in the light is higher than dark respiration. Consequently, many of the methods used to determine respiration and production are biased as they require the assumption that light and dark respiration rates are equivalent. We show here that, in a coastal ecosystem, under visible light exposure, respiration in the light is related to gross production. More than 60% of the variation of respiration in the light, measured at 1 to 40 microg L(-1) of chlorophyll a (Chla), could be explained by the variations of gross production. Secondly, the relative contribution of bacterial respiration to community respiration in the light represented up to 79% at low Chla (1 microg L(-1)) and was negatively correlated with Chla concentration. Although bacterial production and bacterial respiration were both enhanced in the light, bacterial respiration in the light was more stimulated than bacterial production, which resulted in a decrease in bacterial growth efficiency during light exposure. These results show that the impact of light on the functioning of the microbial loop needs to be taken into account for a better understanding of the oceanic carbon cycle.


External organisations
  • Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Bacteria/growth & development/*metabolism, Chlorophyll/analysis, Ecosystem, *Light, Oxygen/metabolism, *Photosynthesis, Phytoplankton/*metabolism, Seawater/microbiology, *Water Microbiology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-34
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes