The strength of the bacteria–phytoplankton coupling and the importance of the microbially mediated carbon fluxes have been investigated in a microtidal lagoon(Lagoon of Venice), with emphasis on the trophic variations, in a within-system perspective. The large trophic heterogeneity of the three stations considered corresponded to an elevated variability of phytoplankton biomass and production (from 0.1 up to 300 mgC/L h), while bacteria standing stock and production(from 2 to 8 mgC/L h) appeared, in comparison, to be much more constant. The relationships between bacteria and the phytoplankton community could not be related to the trophic state in a straightforward way; rather, some patterns common to the three stations could be evidenced. In particular, the two communities appeared to be clearly uncoupled, bacterial carbon demand (BCD) always exceeding dissolved primary production (DPP) and, mostly, also total primary production, independent of the station and the season considered. The occurrence of situations in which bacterial production was larger than primary production and the continuous prevalence of BCD over DPP implied that, quite independent of the trophic variability, sources of organic carbon other than phytoplankton production were necessary and available to sustain the bacterial metabolism in the Lagoon of Venice.
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