Marine Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 293–305 | Cite as

Autoradiographic study to detect metabolically active phytoplankton and bacteria in the Rhode river estuary

  • M. A. Faust
  • D. L. Correll


The rate of utilization of inorganic carbon (C) and phosphate (P) by phytoplankton and bacteria in the Rhode River estuary has been estimated using liquid-emulsion autoradiography during four times of the year. Metabolic activity of phytoplankton was estimated by calculating silver grains above individual species. From these counts, the relative C and P uptake rates of individual species per unit of biomass and per volume of water were estimated. Examination of the autoradiograms showed that the metabolically most active, algae were smaller than 10 μm. Both C and P were paken up by these smaller species at a higher rate than their proportion of the total biomass per volume of water would indicate. Uptake of C and P per unit of cell volume varied within a species and among the various phytoplankton at the different seasons of the year. Metabolic activity of planktonic bacteria in safranin-stained autoradiograms was also estimated by counting bacteria with associated grains and cells without grains. The ratio of 33p-labeled to unlabeled bacteria was highest in November. This high metabolic activity of bacteria in November corresponded with high P uptake rates of the phytoplankton at that time. Throughout this study, only 28 to 42% of the total phytoplankton biomass was metabolically active and, 63 to 85% of the bacteria.


Phosphate Biomass Phytoplankton Metabolic Activity Cell Volume 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Faust
    • 1
  • D. L. Correll
    • 1
  1. 1.Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental StudiesSmithsonian InstitutionEdgewaterUSA

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