Effects of substrate concentration, growth state, and oxygen availability on relationships among bacterial carbon, nitrogen and phospholipid phosphorus content

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The utility of phospholipid phosphorus (Plip-P) concentrations as a measure of microbial biomass is dependent upon the accuracy of the conversion factors used for relating Plip-P to cell carbon, nitrogen or weight. Mixed cultures enriched from marine sediments have been used to evaluate the reliability of these relationships as a function of substrate concentration, growth state and the presence of oxygen. Ratios of Plip-P to carbon and nitrogen were independent of growth state and substrate level but were sensitive to oxygen status. For aerobic incubations, average ratios of 190 and 730 μmol Plip-P/g carbon and nitrogen were obtained, respectively. Average ratios of 100 and 350 μmol Plip-P/g carbon and nitrogen were obtained from anaerobic incubations. As a result, it is not likely that a single conversion factor can be applied to samples from both aerobic and anaerobic systems. In addition, a limited survey of algal Plip-P, carbon and nitrogen concentrations indicates that the presence of a significant algal biomass can result in erroneous estimates of bacterial abundance. © 1990.

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FEMS Microbiology Letters

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