Matching Items (4)

Filtering by

Clear all filters

154500-Thumbnail Image.png

Growth and grazing mortality of pico- and nano-phytoplankton and their role in the carbon export in the Sargasso Sea

Description

The ocean sequesters more than 25% of the carbon released by anthropogenic action every year, and oligotrophic oceans, such as the Sargasso Sea, are responsible for about 50% of the

The ocean sequesters more than 25% of the carbon released by anthropogenic action every year, and oligotrophic oceans, such as the Sargasso Sea, are responsible for about 50% of the global carbon export. Pico- and nano-phytoplankton (cells < 5 µm), mostly unicellular eukaryotes (protists) and cyanobacteria, dominate the primary production in the Sargasso Sea; however, little is known about their contribution to the export of carbon into the deep ocean via sinking particles. The overall goal of this study is to examine the link between growth and grazing rates of pico- and nano-phytoplankton and the carbon export in the Sargasso Sea. I investigate three aspects: 1) how microzooplankton grazing and physical forcing affect taxon-specific primary productivity in this region, 2) how these microbial trophic dynamics impact their contribution to the export of particulate matter, and 3) how much pico-phytoplankton, specifically the pico-cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, contribute to the carbon export. I collected seawater samples within the sunlit (euphotic) zone, and sinking particles at 150 m depth using particle traps in the Sargasso Sea during the winter and summer seasons of 2011 and 2012. I conducted dilution experiments to determine the growth and grazing rates of the pico- and nano-phytoplankton community, and used 454 pyrosequencing and quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction to measure the relative and absolute contribution of these primary producers to the plankton community within the euphotic zone and in the sinking particles. I found that micrograzing controls taxon-specific primary production, and that microbial trophic dynamics impact directly the taxonomical composition of the sinking particles. For the first time, I was able to quantify clade-specific carbon export of pico-cyanobacteria and found that, despite their small size, these tiny primary producers are capable of sinking from the surface to the deeper oceans. However, their contribution to the carbon flux is often less than one tenth of their biomass contribution in the euphotic zone. Our study provides a comprehensive approach to better understand the role of pico- and nano-phytoplankton in the carbon cycle of oligotrophic oceans, and a baseline to study changes in the carbon export in future warmer oceans.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

154504-Thumbnail Image.png

Aggregation of marine pico-cyanobacteria

Description

Marine pico-cyanobacteria of the genera Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus carry out nearly two thirds of the primary production in oligotrophic oceans. These cyanobacteria are also considered an important constituent of the

Marine pico-cyanobacteria of the genera Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus carry out nearly two thirds of the primary production in oligotrophic oceans. These cyanobacteria are also considered an important constituent of the biological carbon pump, the photosynthetic fixation of CO2 to dissolved and particulate organic carbon and subsequent export to the ocean’s interior. But single cells of these cyanobacteria are too small to sink, so their carbon export has to be mediated by aggregate formation and/or consumption by zooplankton that produce sinking fecal pellets. In this dissertation, I investigated for the first time the aggregation of these cyanobacteria by studying the marine Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102 as a model organism. I first found in culture experiments that Synechococcus cells aggregated and that such aggregation of cells was related to the production of transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP), known to provide the main matrix of aggregates of eukaryotic phytoplankton. I also found that despite the lowered growth rates, cells in the nitrogen or phosphorus limited cultures had a higher cell-normalized TEP production and formed a greater total volume of aggregates with higher settling velocities compared to cells in the nutrient replete cultures. I further studied the Synechococcus aggregation in roller tanks that allow the simulation of aggregates settling in the water column, and investigated the effects of the clays kaolinite and bentonite that are commonly found in the ocean. In the roller tanks, Synechococcus cells formed aggregates with diameters of up to 1.4 mm and sinking velocities of up to 440 m/d, comparable to those of larger eukaryotic phytoplankton such as diatoms. In addition, the clay minerals increased the number but reduced the size of aggregates, and their ballasting effects increased the sinking velocity and the carbon export potential of the aggregates. Lastly, I investigated the effects of heterotrophic bacteria on the Synechococcus aggregation, and found that heterotrophic bacteria generally resulted in the formation of fewer, but larger and faster sinking aggregates, and eventually led to an enhanced aggregation of cells and particles. My study contributes to the understanding of the role of marine pico-cyanobacteria in the ecology and biogeochemistry of oligotrophic oceans.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

149451-Thumbnail Image.png

Seasonal and interannual variability of the Sargasso Sea plankton community

Description

Phytoplankton comprise the base of the marine food web, and, along with heterotrophic protists, they are key players in the biological pump that transports carbon from the surface to the

Phytoplankton comprise the base of the marine food web, and, along with heterotrophic protists, they are key players in the biological pump that transports carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. In the world's subtropical oligotrophic gyres, plankton communities exhibit strong seasonality. Winter storms vent deep water into the euphotic zone, triggering a surge in primary productivity in the form of a spring phytoplankton bloom. Although the hydrographic trends of this "boom and bust" cycle have been well studied for decades, community composition and its seasonal and annual variability remains an integral subject of research. It is hypothesized here that proportions of different phytoplankton and protistan taxa vary dramatically between seasons and years, and that picoplankton represent an important component of this community and contributor to carbon in the surface ocean. Monthly samples from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site were analyzed by epifluorescence microscopy, which permits classification by morphology, size, and trophic type. Epifluorescence counts were supplemented with flow cytometric quantification of Synechococcus, Prochlorococcus, and autotrophic pico- and nanoeukaryotes. Results from this study indicate Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, prymnesiophytes, and hetero- and mixotrophic nano- and dinoflagellates were the major players in the BATS region plankton community. Ciliates, cryptophytes, diatoms, unidentified phototrophs, and other taxa represented rarer groups. Both flow cytometry and epifluorescence microscopy revealed Synechococcus to be most prevalent during the spring bloom. Prymnesiophytes likewise displayed distinct seasonality, with the highest concentrations again being noted during the bloom. Heterotrophic nano- and dinoflagellates, however, were most common in fall and winter. Mixotrophic dinoflagellates, while less abundant than their heterotrophic counterparts, displayed similar seasonality. A key finding of this study was the interannual variability revealed between the two years. While most taxa were more abundant in the first year, prymnesiophytes experienced much greater abundance in the second year bloom. Analyses of integrated carbon revealed further stark contrasts between the two years, both in terms of total carbon and the contributions of different groups. Total integrated carbon varied widely in the first study year but displayed less fluctuation after June 2009, and values were noticeably reduced in the second year.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

150180-Thumbnail Image.png

Protist and cyanobacterial contributions to particle flux in oligotrophic ocean regions

Description

The oceans play an essential role in global biogeochemical cycles and in regulating climate. The biological carbon pump, the photosynthetic fixation of carbon dioxide by phytoplankton and subsequent sequestration of

The oceans play an essential role in global biogeochemical cycles and in regulating climate. The biological carbon pump, the photosynthetic fixation of carbon dioxide by phytoplankton and subsequent sequestration of organic carbon into deep water, combined with the physical carbon pump, make the oceans the only long-term net sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide. A full understanding of the workings of the biological carbon pump requires a knowledge of the role of different taxonomic groups of phytoplankton (protists and cyanobacteria) to organic carbon export. However, this has been difficult due to the degraded nature of particles sinking into particle traps, the main tools employed by oceanographers to collect sinking particulate matter in the ocean. In this study DNA-based molecular methods, including denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, cloning and sequencing, and taxon-specific quantitative PCR, allowed for the first time for the identification of which protists and cyanobacteria contributed to the material collected by the traps in relation to their presence in the euphotic zone. I conducted this study at two time-series stations in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, one north of the Canary Islands, and one located south of Bermuda. The Bermuda study allowed me to investigate seasonal and interannual changes in the contribution of the plankton community to particle flux. I could also show that small unarmored taxa, including representatives of prasinophytes and cyanobacteria, constituted a significant fraction of sequences recovered from sediment trap material. Prasinophyte sequences alone could account for up to 13% of the clone library sequences of trap material during bloom periods. These observations contradict a long-standing paradigm in biological oceanography that only large taxa with mineral shells are capable of sinking while smaller, unarmored cells are recycled in the euphotic zone through the microbial loop. Climate change and a subsequent warming of the surface ocean may lead to a shift in the protist community toward smaller cell size in the future, but in light of these findings these changes may not necessarily lead to a reduction in the strength of the biological carbon pump.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011