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Leucine Aminopeptidase, β-Glucosidase and Alkaline Phosphatase Activity Rates and Their Significance in Nutrient Cycles in Some Coastal Mediterranean Sites

Author(s): Gabriella Caruso

Journal: Marine Drugs
ISSN 1660-3397

Volume: 8;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 916;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: organic matter decomposition | microbial enzymes | coastal Mediterranean sites | biogeochemical cycles | microbial ecology

In aquatic microbial ecology, knowledge of the processes involved in the turnover of organic matter is of utmost importance to understand ecosystem functioning. Microorganisms are major players in the cycling of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus) and carbon, thanks to their enzymatic activities (leucine aminopeptidase, LAP, alkaline phosphatase, AP, and β-glucosidase, β-GLU) on organic polymers (proteins, organic phosphates and polysaccharides, respectively). Estimates of the decomposition rates of organic polymers are performed using fluorogenic compounds, whose hydrolysis rate allow us to obtain information on the “potential” metabolic activity of the prokaryotic community. This paper refers the enzyme patterns measured during recent oceanographic cruises performed in some coastal Mediterranean sites, not yet fully investigated in terms of microbial biogeochemical processes. Mean enzyme activity rates ranged from 5.24 to 5558.1 nM/h, from 12.68 to 244.73 nM/h and from 0.006 to 9.51 nM/h for LAP, AP and β-GLU, respectively. The highest LAP and AP activity rates were measured in the Gulf of Milazzo (Tyrrhenian Sea) and in the Straits of Messina, in association with the lowest bacterioplankton abundance; in contrast, the lowest ones were found in the northern Adriatic Sea. β-GLU was more active in the Straits of Messina. Activity rates were analysed in relation to the main environmental variables. Along the northern Adriatic coastal side affected by the Po river, significant inverse relationships linked LAP and AP with salinity, pointing out that fluvial inputs provided organic substrates for microbial metabolism. Both in the Gulf of Manfredonia and in the Straits of Messina, LAP and AP levels were inversely related with the concentration of nitrate and inorganic phosphorus, respectively. In the Gulf of Milazzo, high cell-specific AP measured in spite of phosphorus availability suggested the role of this enzyme not only in phosphorus, but also in carbon release.
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