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  1. The growth of diatoms in the Southern Ocean, especially the region surrounding the West Antarctic Peninsula, is frequently constrained by low dissolved iron and other trace metal concentrations. This challenge may be overcome by mutualisms between diatoms and co-occurring associated bacteria, in which diatoms produce organic carbon as a substrate for bacterial growth, and bacteria produce siderophores, metal-binding ligands that can supply diatoms with metals upon uptake as well as other useful secondary compounds for diatom growth like vitamins. To examine the relationships between diatoms and bacteria in the plankton (diatom) size class (> 3 µm), we sampled both bacterial and diatom community composition with accompanying environmental metadata across a naturally occurring concentration gradient of macronutrients, trace metals and siderophores at 21 stations near the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). Offshore Drake Passage stations had low dissolved iron (0.33 ± 0.15 nM), while the stations closer to the continental margin had higher dissolved iron (5.05 ± 1.83 nM). A similar geographic pattern was observed for macronutrients and most other trace metals measured, but there was not a clear inshore-offshore gradient in siderophore concentrations. The diatom and bacteria assemblages, determined using 18S and 16S rDNA sequencing respectively, were similar by location sampled,more »and variance in both assemblages was driven in part by concentrations of soluble reactive phosphorous, dissolved manganese, and dissolved copper, which were all higher near the continent. Some of the most common diatom sequence types observed were Thalassiosira and Fragilariopsis , and bacteria in the plankton size fraction were most commonly Bacteroidetes and Gammaproteobacteria. Network analysis showed positive associations between diatoms and bacteria, indicating possible in situ mutualisms through strategies such as siderophore and vitamin biosynthesis and exchange. This work furthers the understanding of how naturally occurring gradients of metals and nutrients influence diatom-bacteria interactions. Our data suggest that distinct groups of diatoms and associated bacteria are interacting under different trace metal regimes in the WAP, and that diatoms with different bacterial partners may have different modes of biologically supplied trace metals.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 2, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. The apparently obligate symbiosis between the diazotroph Candidatus Atelocyanobacterium thalassa (UCYN-A) and its haptophyte host, Braarudosphaera bigelowii , has recently been found to fix dinitrogen (N 2 ) in polar waters at rates (per cell) comparable to those observed in the tropical/subtropical oligotrophic ocean basins. This study presents the novel observation that this symbiosis increased in abundance during a wind-driven upwelling event along the Alaskan Beaufort shelfbreak. As upwelling relaxed, the relative abundance of B. bigelowii among eukaryotic phytoplankton increased most significantly in waters over the upper slope. As the host’s nitrogen demands are believed to be supplied primarily by UCYN-A, this response suggests that upwelling may enhance N 2 fixation as displaced coastal waters are advected offshore, potentially extending the duration of upwelling-induced phytoplankton blooms. Given that such events are projected to increase in intensity and number with ocean warming, upwelling-driven N 2 fixation as a feedback on climate merits investigation.
  4. The cyanobacterium  Trichodesmium  plays an essential role supporting ocean productivity by relieving nitrogen limitation via dinitrogen (N 2 ) fixation. The two common Trichodesmium clades,  T. erythraeum  and  T. thiebautii , are both observed in waters along the West Florida Shelf (WFS). We hypothesized that these taxa occupy distinct realized niches, where  T. thiebautii  is the more oceanic clade. Samples for DNA and water chemistry analyses were collected on three separate WFS expeditions (2015, 2018, and 2019) spanning multiple seasons; abundances of the single copy housekeeping gene  rnpB  from both clades were enumerated via quantitative PCR. We conducted a suite of statistical analyses to assess Trichodesmium  clade abundances in the context of the physicochemical data. We observed a consistent coastal vs. open ocean separation of the two clades:  T. erythraeum  was found in shallow waters where the concentrations of dissolved iron (dFe) and the groundwater tracer Ba were significantly higher, while  T. thiebautii  abundance was positively correlated with water column depth. The Loop Current intrusion in 2015 with entrained Missisippi River water brought higher dFe and elevated abundance of both clades offshore of the 50 m isobath, suggesting that both clades are subject to Fe limitation on the outer shelf. Whereas,more »previous work has observed that  T. thiebautii  is more abundant than  T. erythraeum  in open ocean surface waters, this is the first study to examine  Trichodesmium  niche differentiation in a coastal environment. Understanding the environmental niches of these two key taxa bears important implications for their contributions to global nitrogen and carbon cycling and their response to global climate change.« less
  5. Abstract

    In the Southern Ocean, it is well‐known that iron (Fe) limits phytoplankton growth. Yet, other trace metals can also affect phytoplankton physiology. This study investigated feedbacks between phytoplankton growth and dissolved Fe, manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and cadmium (Cd) concentrations in Southern Ocean shipboard incubations. Three experiments were conducted in September–October 2016 near the West Antarctic Peninsula: Incubations 1 and 3 offshore in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and Incubation 2 inshore in Bransfield Strait. Additions of Fe and/or vitamin B12to inshore and offshore waters were employed and allowed assessment of metal (M) uptake relative to soluble reactive phosphorus (P) across a wide range of initial conditions. Offshore, treatments of >1 nmol L−1added Fe were Fe‐replete, whereas inshore waters were already Fe‐replete. Results suggest Mn was a secondary limiting nutrient inshore and offshore. No Fe‐vitamin B12colimitation was observed. Overall, M:P uptake in the incubations was closely related to initial dissolved M:P for Fe, Mn, Co, Ni, and Cd, and for Cu inshore. Final concentrations of Fe and Zn were similar across light treatments of the experiments despite very different phytoplankton responses, and we observed evidence for Co/Cd/Zn substitution and for recycling of biogenic metals as inventoriesmore »plateaued. In dark bottles, the absence of Mn oxidation may have allowed more efficient recycling of Fe and other trace metals. Our results provide insight into factors governing trace metal uptake, with implications for phytoplankton community composition locally and preformed micronutrient bioavailability in Southern Ocean water masses.

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  6. Abstract

    Climatic changes have decreased the stability of the Gulf Stream (GS), increasing the frequency at which its meanders interact with the Mid‐Atlantic Bight (MAB) continental shelf and slope region. These intrusions are thought to suppress biological productivity by transporting low‐nutrient water to the otherwise productive shelf edge region. Here we present evidence of widespread, anomalously intense subsurface diatom hotspots in the MAB slope sea that likely resulted from a GS intrusion in July 2019. The hotspots (at ∼50 m) were associated with water mass properties characteristic of GS water (∼100 m); it is probable that the hotspots resulted from the upwelling of GS water during its transport into the slope sea, likely by a GS meander directly intruding onto the continental slope east of where the hotspots were observed. Further work is required to unravel how increasingly frequent direct GS intrusions could influence MAB marine ecosystems.

  7. Abstract

    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.