Table of Contents
ISRN Oceanography
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 410814, 12 pages
Research Article

Shifts of Bacterioplankton Metabolic Profiles along the Salinity Gradient in a Subtropical Estuary

1Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Myers FL 33965-6565, USA
2Department of Mathematics, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers FL 33965-6565, USA

Received 21 September 2013; Accepted 16 October 2013

Academic Editors: D. Alongi, L. B. Cahoon, S. Ishman, M. Lipinski, and J. L. Zhou

Copyright © 2013 Hidetoshi Urakawa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Understanding the biodegradation potential of river bacterioplankton communities is crucial for watershed management. We investigated the shifts in bacterioplankton metabolic profiles along the salinity gradient of the Caloosahatchee River Estuary, Florida. The carbon source utilization patterns of river bacterioplankton communities were determined by using Biolog EcoPlates. The number of utilized substrates was generally high in the upstream freshwater dominated zone and low in the downstream zone, suggesting a shift in metabolic profiles among bacterioplankton assemblages along the estuarine gradient. The prokaryotic cell numbers also decreased along the estuarine salinity gradient. Seasonal and site-specific differences were found in the numbers of utilized substrates, which were similar in summer and fall (wet season) and winter and spring (dry season). Bacterioplankton assemblages in summer and fall showed more versatile substrate utilization patterns than those of winter and spring communities. Therefore, our data suggest that microbial metabolic patterns in the subtropical estuary are likely influenced by the water discharge patterns created by dry and wet seasons along the salinity gradient.