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Title: Taxonomic and nutrient controls on phytoplankton iron quotas in the ocean

Phytoplankton iron contents (i.e., quotas) directly link biogeochemical cycles of iron and carbon and drive patterns of nutrient limitation, recycling, and export. Ocean biogeochemical models typically assume that iron quotas are either static or controlled by dissolved iron availability. We measured iron quotas in phytoplankton communities across nutrient gradients in the Pacific Ocean and found that quotas diverged significantly in taxon‐specific ways from laboratory‐derived predictions. Iron quotas varied 40‐fold across nutrient gradients, and nitrogen‐limitation allowed diatoms to accumulate fivefold more iron than co‐occurring flagellates even under low iron availability. Modeling indicates such “luxury” uptake is common in large regions of the low‐iron Pacific Ocean. Among diatoms, both pennate and centric genera accumulated luxury iron, but the cosmopolitan pennate genusPseudo‐nitzschiamaintained iron quotas 10‐fold higher than co‐occurring centric diatoms, likely due to enhanced iron storage. Biogeochemical models should account for taxonomic and macronutrient controls on phytoplankton iron quotas.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 96-106
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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