Author(s): Zaccone R, Boldrin A, Caruso G, La Ferla R, Maimone G,
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Abstract The distribution of extracellular enzymatic activities (EEA) [leucine aminopeptidase (LAP), ß-glucosidase (GLU), alkaline phosphatase (AP)], as well as that of prokaryotic abundance (PA) and biomass (PB), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), particulate organic carbon and particulate total nitrogen (POC, PTN), was determined in the epi-, meso-, and bathypelagic waters of the Mediterranean Sea along a West-East transect and at one Atlantic station located outside the Strait of Gibraltar. This study represents a synoptical evaluation of the microbial metabolism during early summer. Decreasing trends with depth were observed for most of the parameters (PA, PB, AP, DOC, POC, PTN). Significant differences between the western and eastern basins of the Mediterranean Sea were found, displaying higher rates of LAP and GLU and lower C/N ratios more in the eastern than in the western areas. Conversely, in the epipelagic layer, PA and PB were found to be higher in the western than in the eastern basins. PB was significantly related to DOC concentration (all data, n = 145, r = 0.53, P < 0.01), while significant correlations of EEA with POC and PTN were found in the epipelagic layer, indicating an active response of microbial metabolism to organic substrates. Specific enzyme activities normalized to cell abundance pointed out high values of LAP and GLU in the bathypelagic layer, especially in the eastern basin, while cell-specific AP was high in the epi- and bathypelagic zone of the eastern basin indicating a rapid regeneration of inorganic P for both prokaryotes and phytoplankton needs. Low activity and abundance characterized the Atlantic station, while opposite trends of these parameters were observed along the Mediterranean transect, showing the uncoupling between abundance and activity data. In the east Mediterranean Sea, decomposition processes increased probably in response to mesoscale structures which lead to organic matter downwelling.
This article was published in Microb Ecol
and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography