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P. Bhaskar, Hans-Peter Grossart, N. Bhosle and Meinhard Simon (2005)

Production of macroaggregates from dissolved exopolymeric substances (EPS) of bacterial and diatom origin

FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 53(2):255-264.

Exopolymeric substances (EPS) isolated from a pure culture of the marine bacterium Marinobacter sp. and the marine diatom Skeletonema costatum (axenic) were partially purified, chemically characterized and used as dissolved organic matter (DOM) for the production of macroaggregates. The role of organic particles such as transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP) and Coomassie stained particles (CSP) in the production of macroaggregates was experimentally assessed. Three experimental rolling tanks containing sterile medium with: (1) EPS, (2) EPS + live diatom cells and (3) EPS + killed bacteria, and three control tanks without any added EPS were used for macroaggregate production. Changes in abundance and average size of macroaggregates were monitored using image analysis, whereas TEP and CSP were enumerated microscopically. In the presence of microbial EPS, macroaggregates of a size of 23–35 mm2 were produced. Aggregate size and abundance considerably varied with both time and source of EPS. No correlation was observed for macroaggregate size and abundance with either TEP or CSP. One-way ANOVA demonstrated significant differences in the variance of particle abundance and size in tanks having only EPS or EPS in combination with live diatom cells. Our data suggest that production of macroaggregates was influenced by polymer chemistry and surface properties of colliding particles, whereas TEP and CSP concentrations were influenced by molecular weight of EPS and the presence of growing cells. Interestingly, macroaggregates were formed in the near absence of TEP and CSP, highlighting the role of other unknown processes in the transformation of DOM to particulate organic matter (POM) in aquatic environments.

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