Dynamics of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) production and loss in an estuarine, diatom-dominated, microalgal biofilm over a tidal emersion-immersion period

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Department of Biological Sciences


We studied patterns of production and loss of four different extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) fractions - colloidal carbohydrates, colloidal EPS (cEPS), hot water (HW)-extracted and hot bicarbonate (HB)-extracted fractions - and community profiles of active (RNA) bacterial communities by use of Terminal-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction amplified 16S rRNA in mudflats in the Colne Estuary, United Kingdom, over two tidal emersion-immersion cycles. Colloidal carbohydrates and intracellular storage carbohydrate (HW) increased during tidal emersion and declined during tidal cover. The dynamics of cEPS and uronic acid content were closely coupled, as were the HB fraction and HB uronic acids. Changes in monosaccharide profiles of HW and HB fractions occurred during the diel period, with some similarity between cEPS and HB fractions. Increasing enzymatic release rates of reducing sugars and increased reducing sugar content were correlated with increased concentrations of colloidal carbohydrate and cEPS during the illuminated emersion period, and with the amount of HB-extracted uronic acids (the most refractory EPS fraction measured). Loss of reducing sugars was high, with sediment concentrations far below those predicted by the measured in situ release rates, T-RFLP analysis revealed no significant shifts in the overall taxonomic composition of the active bacterial community. However, 12 of the 59 terminal restriction fragments identified showed significant changes in relative abundance during the tidal cycle. Changes in the relative abundance of three particular terminal restriction fragments (bacterial taxa) were positively correlated to the rate of extracellular hydrolysis. Losses of chlorophyll a and colloidal and cEPS (up to 50-60%) occurred mainly in the first 30 min after tidal cover. About half of this may be owing to in situ degradation, with "wash away" into the water column accounting for the remainder.

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© 2006, by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2006.51.1.0079

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Limnology and Oceanography