Increased bacterial growth efficiency with environmental variability: results from DOC degradation by bacteria in pure culture experiments
Abstract. This paper assesses how considering variation in DOC availability and cell maintenance in bacterial models affects Bacterial Growth Efficiency (BGE) estimations. For this purpose, we conducted two biodegradation experiments simultaneously. In experiment one, a given amount of substrate was added to the culture at the start of the experiment whilst in experiment two, the same amount of substrate was added, but using periodic pulses over the time course of the experiment. Three bacterial models, with different levels of complexity, (the Monod, Marr-Pirt and the dynamic energy budget – DEB – models), were used and calibrated using the above experiments. BGE has been estimated using the experimental values obtained from discrete samples and from model generated data. Cell maintenance was derived experimentally, from respiration rate measurements. The results showed that the Monod model did not reproduce the experimental data accurately, whereas the Marr-Pirt and DEB models demonstrated a good level of reproducibility, probably because cell maintenance was built into their formula. Whatever estimation method was used, the BGE value was always higher in experiment two (the periodically pulsed substrate) as compared to the initially one-pulsed-substrate experiment. Moreover, BGE values estimated without considering cell maintenance (Monod model and empirical formula) were always smaller than BGE values obtained from models taking cell maintenance into account. Since BGE is commonly estimated using constant experimental systems and ignore maintenance, we conclude that these typical methods underestimate BGE values. On a larger scale, and for biogeochemical cycles, this would lead to the conclusion that, for a given DOC supply rate and a given DOC consumption rate, these BGE estimation methods overestimate the role of bacterioplankton as CO2 producers.