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Determination of the Sedimentary Microbial Biomass by Extractible Lipid Phosphate

D. C. White, W. M. Davis, J. S. Nickels, J. D. King and R. J. Bobbie
Oecologia
Vol. 40, No. 1 (1979), pp. 51-62
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4215834
Page Count: 12
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Determination of the Sedimentary Microbial Biomass by Extractible Lipid Phosphate
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Abstract

The measurement of lipid phosphate is proposed as an indicator of microbial biomass in marine and estuarine sediments. This relatively simple assay can be performed on fresh, frozen or frozen-lyophilized sediment samples with chloroform methanol extraction and subsequent phosphate determination. The sedimentary lipid phosphate recovery correlates with the extractible ATP and the rate of DNA synthesis. Pulse-chase experiments show active metabolism of the sedimentary phospholipids. The recovery of added 14C-labeled bacterial lipids from sediments is quantitative. Replicate analyses from a single sediment sample gave a standard deviation of 11%. The lipid extract can be fractionated by relatively simple procedures and the plasmalogen, diacyl phospholipid, phosphonolipid and non-hydrolyzable phospholipid content determined. The relative fatty acid composition can be readily determined by gas-liquid chromatography. The lipid composition can be used to define the microbial community structure. For example, the absence of polyenoic fatty acids indicates minimal contamination with benthic micro-eukaryotes. Therefore the high content of plasmalogen phospholipids in these sediments suggests that the anaerobic prokaryotic Clostridia are found in the aerobic sedimentary horizon. This would require anaerobic microhabitats in the aerated zones.

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