Heterogeneity in the Nutrient Limitation of Different Bacterioplankton Groups in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

ISME J. 2013 Aug;7(8):1665-8. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.42. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


The heterotrophic bacterial community of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is believed to be limited by phosphorus (P) availability. This observation assumes that all bacterial groups are equally limited, something that has not been hitherto examined. To test this hypothesis, we performed nutrient addition experiments and investigated the response of probe-identified groups using microautoradiography combined with catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization. Our results show contrasting responses between the bacterial groups, with Gammaproteobacteria being the group more affected by P availability. The Roseobacter clade was likely colimited by P and nitrogen (N), whereas Bacteroidetes by P, N and organic carbon (C). In contrast, SAR11 cells were active regardless of the nutrient concentration. These results indicate that there is high heterogeneity in the nutrient limitation of the different components of the bacterioplankton community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoradiography
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Phosphorus / metabolism*
  • Plankton / microbiology
  • Seawater / microbiology*


  • Phosphorus
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen