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The adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content of seven selected cultures of marine bacteria, representing five genera, has been determined during growth in chemostats and during the various growth phases in batch cultures. The range of ATP content in chemostat-grown cells was 0.5-6.5 × 10-9 μ g ATP/cell, or 0.3 to 1.1% of the cell carbon. The ATP content of senescent cells in batch cultures and in starved cells was generally about one fifth the concentration found in logarithmically growing cells. The average content of ATP in all the bacteria examined was 0.4% of cell carbon. It is concluded that ATP data can provide a useful estimate of heterotrophic biomass in the oceans.
Limnology and Oceanography