skip to main content


Title: The Bay of Bengal exposes abundant photosynthetic picoplankton and newfound diversity along salinity‐driven gradients
Abstract

The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is a 2,600,000 km2expanse in the Indian Ocean upon which many humans rely. However, the primary producers underpinning food chains here remain poorly characterized. We examined phytoplankton abundance and diversity along strong BoB latitudinal and vertical salinity gradients—which have low temperature variation (27–29°C) between the surface and subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM). In surface waters,Prochlorococcusaveraged 11.7 ± 4.4 × 104 cells ml−1, predominantly HLII, whereas LLII and ‘rare’ ecotypes, HLVI and LLVII, dominated in the SCM.Synechococcusaveraged 8.4 ± 2.3 × 104 cells ml−1in the surface, declined rapidly with depth, and population structure of dominant Clade II differed between surface and SCM; Clade X was notable at both depths. Across all sites,OstreococcusClade OII dominated SCM eukaryotes whereas communities differentiated strongly moving from Arabian Sea‐influenced high salinity (southerly; prasinophytes) to freshwater‐influenced low salinity (northerly; stramenopiles, specifically, diatoms, pelagophytes, and dictyochophytes, plus the prasinophyteMicromonas) surface waters. Eukaryotic phytoplankton peaked in the south (1.9 × 104 cells ml−1, surface) where a novelOstreococcuswas revealed, named hereOstreococcus bengalensis. We expose dominance of a single picoeukaryote and hitherto ‘rare’ picocyanobacteria at depth in this complex ecosystem where studies suggest picoplankton are replacing larger phytoplankton due to climate change.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2230811
NSF-PAR ID:
10442020
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Microbiology
Volume:
25
Issue:
11
ISSN:
1462-2912
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 2118-2141
Size(s):
["p. 2118-2141"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Bay of Bengal (BoB) spans >2.2 million km2in the northeastern Indian Ocean and is bordered by dense populations that depend upon its resources. Over recent decades, a shift from larger phytoplankton to picoplankton has been reported, yet the abundance, activity, and composition of primary producer communities are not well‐characterized. We analysed the BoB regions during the summer monsoon.Prochlorococcusranged up to 3.14 × 105cells mL−1in the surface mixed layer, averaging 1.74 ± 0.46 × 105in the upper 10 m and consistently higher thanSynechococcusand eukaryotic phytoplankton. V1‐V2 rRNA gene amplicon analyses showed the High Light II (HLII) ecotype formed 98 ± 1% ofProchlorococcusamplicons in surface waters, comprising six oligotypes, with the dominant oligotype accounting for 65 ± 4% of HLII. Diel sampling of a coherent water mass demonstrated evening onset of cell division and rapidProchlorococcusgrowth between 1.5 and 3.1 div day−1, based on cell cycle analysis, as confirmed by abundance‐based estimates of 2.1 div day−1. Accumulation ofProchlorococcusproduced by ultradian growth was restricted by high loss rates. Alongside prior Arabian Sea and tropical Atlantic rates, our results indicateProchlorococcusgrowth rates should be reevaluated with greater attention to latitudinal zones and influences on contributions to global primary production.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Two oceanographic cruises were completed in September 2016 and August 2017 to investigate the distribution of particulate organic matter (POM) across the northeast Chukchi Shelf. Both periods were characterized by highly stratified conditions, with major contrasts in the distribution of regional water masses that impacted POM distributions. Overall, surface waters were characterized by low chlorophyll fluorescence (Chl Fl < 0.8 mg m−3) and particle beam attenuation (cp < 0.3 m−1) values, and low concentrations of particulate organic carbon (POC < 8 mmol m−3), chlorophyll and pheophytin (Chl + Pheo < 0.8 mg m−3), and suspended particulate matter (SPM ∼2 g m−3). Elevated Chl Fl and Chl + Pheo (∼2 mg m−3) values measured at mid‐depths below the pycnocline defined the subsurface chlorophyll maxima (SCM), which exhibited moderate POC (∼10 mmol m−3),cp(∼0.4 m−1) and SPM (∼3 g m−3). In contrast, deeper waters below the pycnocline were characterized by low Chl Fl and Chl + Pheo (∼0.7 mg m−3), highcp(>1.5 m−1) and SPM (>8 g m−3) and elevated POC (>10 mmol m−3). POM compositions from surface and SCM regions of the water column were consistent with contributions from active phytoplankton sources whereas samples from bottom waters were characterized by high Pheo/(Chl + Pheo) ratios (>0.4) indicative of altered phytoplankton detritus. Marked contrasts in POM were observed in both surface and middepth waters during both cruises. Increases in chlorophyll and POC consistent with enhanced productivity were measured in middepth waters during the September 2016 cruise following a period of downwelling‐favorable winds, and in surface waters during the August 2017 cruise following a period of upwelling‐favorable winds.

     
    more » « less
  3. Information on the intracellular content and functional diversity of phytoplankton pigments can provide valuable insight on the ecophysiological state of primary producers and the flow of energy within aquatic ecosystems. Combined global datasets of analytical flow cytometry (AFC) cell counts and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) pigment concentrations were used to examine vertical and seasonal variability in the ratios of phytoplankton pigments in relation to indices of cellular photoacclimation. Across all open ocean datasets, the weight-to-weight ratio of photoprotective to photosynthetic pigments showed a strong depth dependence that tracked the vertical decline in the relative availability of light. The Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) dataset revealed a general increase in surface values of the relative concentrations of photoprotective carotenoids from the winter-spring phytoplankton communities dominated by low-light acclimated eukaryotic microalgae to the summer and early autumn communities dominated by high-light acclimated picocyanobacteria. InProchlorococcus-dominated waters, the vertical decline in the relative contribution of photoprotective pigments to total pigment concentration could be attributed in large part to changes in the cellular content of photosynthetic pigments (PSP) rather than photoprotective pigments (PPP), as evidenced by a depth-dependent increase of the intracellular concentration of the divinyl chlorophyll-a(DVChl-a) whilst the intracellular concentration of the PPP zeaxanthin remained relatively uniform with depth. The ability ofProchlorococcuscells to adjust their DVChl-acell-1over a large gradient in light intensity was reflected in more highly variable estimates of carbon-to-Chl-aratio compared to those reported for other phytoplankton groups. This cellular property is likely the combined result of photoacclimatory changes at the cellular level and a shift in dominant ecotypes. Developing a mechanistic understanding of sources of variability in pigmentation of picocyanobacteria is critical if the pigment markers and bio-optical properties of these cells are to be used to map their biogeography and serve as indicators of photoacclimatory state of subtropical phytoplankton communities more broadly. It would also allow better assessment of effects on, and adaptability of phytoplankton communities in the tropical/subtropical ocean due to climate change.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    In contrast to large river plumes, Coriolis effects are weak, and inertia is quickly depleted so that the fate and structure of small‐scale plumes are more sensitive to tide and wind. Advected alongshore by reversing tidal currents in absence of wind forcing, small buoyant plumes are persistently deflected downwind in presence of alongshore winds and exhibit little tidal variability. The effect of different upwelling/downwelling winds on buoyant outflows ∼10 m3 s−1is explored. With increasing wind, tidal variability decreases, as does asymmetry in plume characteristics—for strong winds upwelling/downwelling plume structure is similar as the plume is retained closer to the shore. Wind forcing is exerted directly by wind stress on the surface of the plume and indirectly by wind‐driven currents that deflect the upwind boundary of the plume. While inertia and buoyancy dominate the inner plume, and wind dominates the outer plume, the mid‐plume responds to an interaction of wind and buoyancy forcing that can be indexed by a Plume Wedderburn NumberWpl(wind stress vs. density gradients): for weaker winds (Wpl< 1) surface stress enhances stratification through straining, lengthening the reach of low‐salinity waters, whereas for stronger winds (Wpl> 1) surface stress mixes the plume vertically, shortening the reach of low‐salinity waters. However, dilute plume waters extend furthest in strong winds, passively advected several kilometers downwind. Shoreline exposure to outflow transitions from a quasi‐symmetrical tide‐averaged zone of impact under zero‐wind to a heavily skewed zone with persistent weak wind and a one‐sided zone for strong wind.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Ocean spring phytoplankton blooms are dynamic periods important to global primary production. We document vertical patterns of a diverse suite of eukaryotic algae, the prasinophytes, in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre with monthly sampling over four years at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site. Water column structure was used to delineate seasonal stability periods more ecologically relevant than seasons defined by calendar dates. During winter mixing, tiny prasinophytes dominated by Class II comprise 46  ±  24% of eukaryotic algal (plastid-derived) 16S rRNA V1-V2 amplicons, specificallyOstreococcusClade OII,Micromonas commoda, andBathycoccus calidus. In contrast, Class VII are rare and Classes I and VI peak during warm stratified periods when surface eukaryotic phytoplankton abundances are low. Seasonality underpins a reservoir of genetic diversity from multiple prasinophyte classes during warm periods that harbor ephemeral taxa. Persistent Class II sub-species dominating the winter/spring bloom period retreat to the deep chlorophyll maximum in summer, poised to seed the mixed layer upon winter convection, exposing a mechanism for initiating high abundances at bloom onset. Comparisons to tropical oceans reveal broad distributions of the dominant sub-species herein. This unparalleled window into temporal and spatial niche partitioning of picoeukaryotic primary producers demonstrates how key prasinophytes prevail in warm oceans.

     
    more » « less