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Iron effects on colonization behavior, motility, and enzymatic activity of marine bacteria

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Iron availability in the ocean has been shown to affect the growth and production of phytoplankton and free-living bacteria. A large fraction of marine bacteria are specialized in colonizing and living on particles and aggregates, but the effects of iron limitation on these bacteria are not fully known. We conducted laboratory experiments to study the effects of iron availability on particle colonization behavior, motility, and enzymatic activities of 4 strains of marine bacteria. Iron depletion reduced the bacterial particle colonization rate by 1.7%–43.1%, which could be attributed to reduced swimming speeds in 2 of the 4 strains. Protease activity was not affected by iron availability. However, attached bacteria did show higher protease activities than their free counterparts. Our results suggest that iron limitation in the ocean could in some cases reduce bacteria–particle interactions by reducing bacterial motility and colonization rate.

La disponibilité du fer de l’océan affecte la croissance et la production de phytoplancton et de bactéries libres. Une grande proportion des bactéries marines sont spécialisées dans la colonisation et la croissance sur des particules ou des agrégats, mais les effets de la limitation en fer sur ces bactéries ne sont pas bien connus. Nous avons réalisé des expériences en laboratoire afin d’étudier les effets de la disponibilité en fer sur la colonisation des particules, la motilité et l’activité enzymatique de quatre souches de bactéries marines. La déplétion en fer a réduit le taux de colonisation de particules de 1,7% à 43,1%, ce qui pourrait être attribué à une vitesse de nage réduite chez 2 des 4 souches. L’activité protéase n’était pas affectée par la disponibilité du fer. Cependant, les bactéries attachées n’ont pas démontré d’activité protéase plus élevée que leurs contreparties libres. Nos résultats suggèrent que la limitation en fer de l’océan pourrait dans certains cas réduire les interactions bactérie–particules en réduisant la motilité et le taux de colonisation.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1954, this monthly journal contains new research in the field of microbiology including applied microbiology and biotechnology; microbial structure and function; fungi and other eucaryotic protists; infection and immunity; microbial ecology; physiology, metabolism and enzymology; and virology, genetics, and molecular biology. It also publishes review articles and notes on an occasional basis, contributed by recognized scientists worldwide.
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