Temperature sensitivities of microbial plankton net growth rates are seasonally coherent and linked to nutrient availability

Xose Anxelu G. Moran, Alejandra Calvo-Díaz, Nestor Arandia-Gorostidi, Tamara Huete-Stauffer

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25 Scopus citations


Recent work suggests that temperature effects on marine heterotrophic bacteria are strongly seasonal, but few attempts have been made to concurrently assess them across trophic levels. Here, we estimated the temperature sensitivities (using activation energies, E) of autotrophic and heterotrophic microbial plankton net growth rates over an annual cycle in NE Atlantic coastal waters. Phytoplankton grew in winter and late autumn (0.41 ± 0.16 SE d-1 ) and decayed in the remaining months (-0.42 ± 0.10 d-1 ). Heterotrophic microbes shared a similar seasonality, with positive net growth for bacteria (0.14-1.48 d-1 ), while nanoflagellates had higher values (>0.4 d-1 ) in winter and spring relative to the rest of the year (-0.46-0.29 d-1 ). Net growth rates activation energies showed similar dynamics in the three groups (-1.07 - 1.51 eV), characterized by maxima in winter, minima in summer and resumed increases in autumn. Microbial plankton E values were significantly correlated with nitrate concentrations as a proxy for nutrient availability. Nutrient-sufficiency (i.e. >1 μmol L-1 nitrate) resulted in significantly higher activation energies of phytoplankton and heterotrophic nanoflagellates relative to nutrient-limited conditions. We suggest that only within spatio-temporal windows of both moderate bottom-up and top-down controls will temperature have a major enhancing effect on microbial growth. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3798-3810
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 10 2018


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