To characterize bacterioplankton functional assemblages that transform specific components of the coastal seawater dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was used to label the bacterioplankton cells that were active following addition of single-DOC model compounds: two organic osmolytes [dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and glycine betaine (GlyB)] and two aromatic monomers [para-hydroxybenzoic acid (pHBA) and vanillic acid (VanA)]. Bacterial populations were analysed based on in situ fluorescent immunodetection of BrdU incorporation followed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Sorted cells were then characterized by 16S rDNA-based analysis. Populations with high BrdU incorporation level (HI) developed within 8 h of introduction of 100 nM model compound. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms (T-RFLP) analysis indicated that the HI populations in all four amendments were composed of bacteria from the same major taxa (phylum and subphylum levels), but the relative abundance of each differed. High-resolution clone libraries (each containing ∼200 clones) showed that the HI populations in the GlyB and VanA amendments consisted of both metabolic generalists and specialists within the α-Proteobacteria (mainly members of the Roseobacter clade), β-Proteobacteria and γ-Proteobacteria (mainly members of Altermonadaceae, Chromatiaceae, Oceanospirillaceae and Pseudomonadaceae). The presence of members of OM60/241, OM185, SAR11, SAR86 and SAR116 in the HI populations indicated that members of these groups can assimilate the model DOC compounds, providing some of the first glimpses into heterotrophy by members of these poorly understood environmental clusters.