Although marine bacteria were identified nearly two decades ago as potential sources for strong iron-binding organic ligands detected in seawater, specific linkages between ligands detected in natural water and the microbial community remain unclear. We compared the production of different classes of iron-binding ligands, dissolved iron and macronutrient concentrations, and phytoplankton and bacterioplankton assemblages in a series of iron amended 6-d incubations. Incubations with high iron additions had near complete macronutrient consumption and higher phytoplankton biomass compared with incubations with low iron additions, but both iron treatments were dominated by diatoms. However, we only detected the strongest ligands in high-iron treatments, and strong iron-binding ligands were generally correlated with an increased abundance of copiotrophic bacteria, particularly Alteromonas strains. Ultimately, these robust correlations suggest a potential linkage between copiotrophic bacteria and strong iron-binding ligand production after iron fertilization events in the marine environment.