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Regulation of gross growth efficiency and ammonium regeneration in bacteria by substrate carbon to nitrogen ratio

, : Regulation of gross growth efficiency and ammonium regeneration in bacteria by substrate carbon to nitrogen ratio. Limnology & Oceanography 32(6): 1239-1252

Natural assemblages of marine bacteria were cultured on combinations of C and N sources (amino acids, glucose, and NH4+) to span a range of substrate C:N ratios from 1.5:1 to 10:1. Catabolic metabolism of the N component of amino acid substrates led to NH4+ regeneration during exponential growth. The efficiency of this regeneration (RN) and also of the carbon gross growth efficiency (GGE) generally was independent of the sources of C and N, but increased as the C:N ratio of the substrate (C:NS) decreased relative to the C:N ratio of the bacterial biomass (C:NB). The elemental chemical composition(C:N:P ratio) of the bacterial biomass was relatively invariant at about 45:9:1 and the gross growth efficiency varied from a threshold value of about 40-50% at C:NS > 6:1 up to 94% when C:NS was 1.5:1. Hence, RN varied from 0% when C:NS was 10:1 up to 86% when C:NS was 1.5:1. Inorganic sources of both N and P were taken up only in stoichiometric quantities during this phase of growth. Regeneration of NH4+ during the stationary phase as well as of PO43- occurred, most likely due to endogenous metabolism or cell death, but the magnitude of this regeneration seemed to increase greatly only when C:NS was > 6:1. Considering that amino acids frequently do not provide all of the N required and that carbohydrates often are the major C source for growth of marine bacteria, we speculate that C:NS of available substrates in marine waters is > 10:1. Hence, actively growing bacteria may be inefficient remineralizers of N.

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