Bacterial colonization and ectoenzymatic activity in phytoplankton-derived model particles: Cleavage of peptides and uptake of amino acids

M. Unanue*, I. Azúa, J. M. Arrieta, A. Labirua-Iturburu, L. Egea, J. Iriberri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Phytoplankton-derived model particles were created in laboratory from a mixture of autoclaved diatom cultures. These particles were colonized by a marine bacterial community and incubated in rolling tanks in order to examine the relationship between aminopeptidase activity and leucine uptake. Bacteria inhabiting particles and ambient water were characterized for abundance, biovolume, aminopeptidase activity, leucine uptake, and growth rate. Particles were a less favorable habitat than ambient water for bacterial growth since growth rates of particle-attached bacteria were similar or even lower than those of free-living bacteria. During the first ~100 h of the particle decomposition process, there were not statistically significant differences in the aminopeptidase activity:leucine uptake ratio between attached and free-living bacteria. From ~100 h to ~200 h, this ratio was higher for attached bacteria than for free-living bacteria. This indicates an uncoupling of aminopeptidase activity and leucine uptake. During this period, attached and free-living bacteria showed similar hydrolytic activities on a cell-specific basis. In the free-living bacterial community, variations in aminopeptidase activity per cell were associated with variations in leucine uptake per cell and growth rates. However, in the attached bacterial community, when leucine uptake and growth rates decreased, aminopeptidase activity remained constant. Thus, after ~100 h, particle-attached bacteria were not taking advantage of their high aminopeptidase activity; consequently the hydrolysed amino acids were released into the ambient water, supporting the growth of free-living bacteria. These results demonstrate that over the particle decomposition process, the relationship between hydrolysis and uptake of the protein fraction shows different patterns of variation for attached and free-living bacterial communities. However, in our experiments, this uncoupling was not based on a hyperproduction of enzymes by attached bacteria, but on lower uptake rates when compared to the free-living bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Bacterial colonization and ectoenzymatic activity in phytoplankton-derived model particles: Cleavage of peptides and uptake of amino acids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this