Specific activity of cell-surface acid phosphatase in different bacterioplankton morphotypes in an acidified mountain lake

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SummaryActivity of extracellular acid phosphatases was measured at single-cell level in bacterioplankton groups defined by their morphology and size, in acidified mountain Lake Čertovo, during the 2003 season, with a method based on use of the substrate ELF97 phosphate which provides fluorescent precipitates upon hydrolysis by phosphatases. The bacterial cell-associated precipitates were quantified by image analysis. A specific, conspicuous, apparently homogeneous morphotype of curved cells of ∼5 μm average length, despite its low total biomass (average of 4%), contributed significantly (in average by 31%) to the total bacterioplankton phosphatase activity in Lake Čertovo (ranging from 1.0 to 12.7 μmol l−1 h−1, using ELF97 phosphate as a substrate). Bacterial filaments (> 10 μm), although comprising in average 85% of bacterioplankton biomass, contributed to the total bacterioplankton activity only by 45%. Biomass-specific activity of extracellular (cell-surface) phosphatases of the main bacterioplankton morphotypes increased in the order filaments < cocci and rods < curved cells. The biomass-specific activity of bacterioplankton extracellular phosphatases (0–300 nmol μgC−1 h−1) was generally highest in the spring and decreased gradually during summer. These changes could result from seasonal changes in the phosphorus status of the lake and from subsequent regulation of enzyme expression by bacteria.

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