A process of global importance in carbon cycling is the remineralization of algae biomass by heterotrophic bacteria, most notably during massive marine algae blooms. Such blooms can trigger secondary blooms of planktonic bacteria that consist of swift successions of distinct bacterial clades, most prominently members of the Flavobacteriia, Gammaproteobacteria and the alphaproteobacterial Roseobacter clade. This study explores such successions during spring phytoplankton blooms in the southern North Sea (German Bight) for four consecutive years. The surface water samples were taken at Helgoland Island about 40 km offshore in the southeastern North Sea in the German Bight at the station 'Kabeltonne' (54° 11.3' N, 7° 54.0' E) between the main island and the minor island, Düne (German for 'dune') using small research vessels (http://www.awi.de/en/expedition/ships/more-ships.html). Water depths at this site fluctuate from 6 to 10 m over the tidal cycle. Samples were processed as described previously (Teeling et al., 2012; doi:10.7554/eLife.11888.001) in the laboratory of the Biological Station Helgoland within less than two hours after sampling. Assessment of absolute cell numbers and bacterioplankton community composition was carried out as described previously (Thiele et al., 2011; doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-53199-5.00056-7). To obtain total cell numbers, DNA of formaldehyde fixed cells filtered on 0.2 mm pore sized filters was stained with 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). Fluorescently labeled cells were subsequently counted on filter sections using an epifluores-cence microscope. Likewise, bacterioplankton community composition was assessed by catalyzedreporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH) of formaldehyde fixed cells on 0.2 mm pore sized filters.
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