Master recyclers: features and functions of bacteria associated with phytoplankton blooms

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Oct;12(10):686-98. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3326. Epub 2014 Aug 19.


Marine phytoplankton blooms are annual spring events that sustain active and diverse bloom-associated bacterial populations. Blooms vary considerably in terms of eukaryotic species composition and environmental conditions, but a limited number of heterotrophic bacterial lineages - primarily members of the Flavobacteriia, Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria - dominate these communities. In this Review, we discuss the central role that these bacteria have in transforming phytoplankton-derived organic matter and thus in biogeochemical nutrient cycling. On the basis of selected field and laboratory-based studies of flavobacteria and roseobacters, distinct metabolic strategies are emerging for these archetypal phytoplankton-associated taxa, which provide insights into the underlying mechanisms that dictate their behaviours during blooms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphaproteobacteria / growth & development
  • Alphaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Aquatic Organisms*
  • Eutrophication*
  • Flavobacteriaceae / growth & development
  • Flavobacteriaceae / metabolism*
  • Gammaproteobacteria / growth & development
  • Gammaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Phytoplankton / growth & development
  • Phytoplankton / metabolism*
  • Phytoplankton / microbiology


  • Organic Chemicals