Bacterial biomass, metabolic state, and activity in stream sediments: relation to environmental variables and multiple assay comparisons

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Bott, T.L., and L.A. Kaplan. 1985. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 50:508–522.

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Bacterial biomass, metabolic condition, and activity were measured over a 16-month period in the surface sediments of the following four field sites with differing dissolved organic matter regimes: a woodlot spring seep, a meadow spring seep, a second-order stream, and a third-order stream. Total bacterial biomass was measured by lipid phosphate and epifluorescence microscopic counts (EMC), and viable biomass was measured by 14C most probable number, EMC with 2-(p-iodophenyl)-3-(p-nitrophenyl)-5-phenyl tetrazolium chloride reduction, and ATP. Bacterial metabolic condition was determined from the percentage of respiring cells, poly-β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations, and adenylate energy charge. Activity measures included 14C-lipid synthesis, 32P-phospholipid synthesis, the rate of uptake of algal lysate dissolved organic carbon, and respiration, from which biosynthesis was calculated (dissolved organic carbon uptake corrected for respiration). Total bacterial biomass (from EMC) ranged from 0.012 to 0.354 μg of C/mg of dry sediment and was usually lowest in the third-order stream. The percentage of cells respiring was less than 25% at all sites, indicating that most bacteria were dormant or dead. Adenylate energy charge was measured only in the third-order stream and was uniformly low. Poly-β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations were greater in the woodlot spring seep than in the second- and third-order streams. Uptake of algal lysate dissolved organic carbon ranged from undetectable levels to 166 mg of C · m−2 · h−1. Little community respiration could be attributed to algal lysate metabolism. Phospholipid synthesis ranged from 0.006 to 0.354 pmol · mg of dry sediment−1· h−1. Phospholipid synthesis rates were used to estimate bacterial turnover at the study sites. An estimated 375 bacterial generations per year were produced in the woodlot spring seep, and 67 per year were produced in the third-order stream.