Biomass of Bacteria, Cyanobacteria, Prochlorophytes, and Photosynthetic Eucaryotes in the Sargasso Sea
Bacteria, cyanobacteria, prochlorophytes, and photosynthetic eukaryotes were enumerated in depth profiles at a station in the northern Sargasso Sea occupied for 9 days during September, 1988. Carbon biomass of each group was inferred from cell abundance using conversion factors taken from the literature. Over the upper 200 m in the water column, carbon biomass occurred in the approximate proportion of 1:2:4:8 for cyanobacteria: prochlorophytes: photosynthetic eukaryotes: bacteria. Taken together, the three phytoplankton groups represented about the same amount of carbon biomass as the bacteria. This conclusion was validated by the independent measure of bulk chlorophyll a if the carbomchl ratio was assumed to be about 44 in the nitrate-depleted layer and about 15 in the nitrate-rich layer. In reporting the biomass co-dominance of bacteria and phytoplankton, we do not deny that bacteria may dominate phytoplankton at other times and in other places in the oligotrophic ocean. Biomass co-dominance between these two trophic groups admits the possibility that oligotrophic bacterial assemblages may have high growth rates.