Jones, W.B, L.A. Cifuentes, and J.E. Kaldy. 2003. Stable carbon isotope evidence for coupling between sedimentary bacteria and seagrasses in a sub-tropical lagoon. Marine Ecology Progress Series 255:15-25. WED-03-036
We measured stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) in phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) to identify the primary carbon source utilized by sedimentary bacteria in Lower Laguna Madre, Texas, which is a seagrass dominated lagoon. Comparisons were made between three differing habitat types consisting of a bare area, a transitional area, and a vegetated area. Using PLFA concentrations, we estimated that bacterial abundance was significantly higher in the vegetated habitat compared with bare or transitional habitats. Seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) above ground tissues averaged –10.8 ±0.3‰ and benthic microalgae, based on 20:5Δ3 PLFA, averaged -20.5 ±0.6‰. The δ13C of total organic carbon (TO13C) from all habitats nd depths were within ±2‰ of T. testudinum above ground tissues suggesting that the majority of sedimentary organic carbon originated from this source. The δ13C of the ubiquitous16:0 PLFA indicated more complexity in surface vegetated sediments and at depth (about 19 cm) in bare and transitional habitats. In turn, the δ13C of branched, iso- and anteiso-15:0 (i&a15:0) PLFAs found only in bacteria were within ±3‰ of TO13C in all habitats and at all depths. Our work confirmed coupling between sedimentary bacteria and seagrasses occurs in oligotrophic systems with few allochthonous inputs.