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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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Biology | Life Sciences


The cell density, activity, and community structure of the bacterial community in wetland sediments were monitored over a 13-month period. The study was performed at Cedar Bog, an alkaline fen. The objective was to characterize the relationship between the sediment bacterial community in groundwater upwelling zones and the physical and chemical factors which might influence the community structure and activity. DNA, protein, and lipid synthesis were measured at three different upwelling zones by using [H-3]thymidine, [C-14]leucine, and [C-14]glucose incorporation, respectively. The physiological status (apparent stress) of the consortium was assessed by comparing [C-14]glucose incorporation into membrane and that into storage lipids. Bacterial cell density was determined by acridine orange direct counts, and gross bacterial community structure was determined by bisbenzimidazole-cesium chloride gradient analysis of total bacterial community DNA. Both seasonal and site-related covariation were observed in all estimates of bacterial biomass and activity. Growth rate estimates and cell density peaked in late July at 2.5 x 10(8) cells/g/day and 2.7 x 10(9) cells/g, respectively, and decreased in December to 2.0 x 10(7) cells/g/day and 1.5 x 10(9) cells/g, respectively. Across sites, membrane-to-storage-lipid ratios were generally highest in late spring and peaked in September for one site. Overall, the data indicate dynamic seasonal differences in sediment bacterial community activity and physiology, possibly in response to changing physical and chemical environmental factors which included the C/N/P ratios of the perfusing groundwater. By contrast, total cell numbers were rather constant, and community structure analysis indicated that the overall community structure was similar throughout the study.

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