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  1. Diatoms serve as the major link between the marine carbon (C) and silicon (Si) biogeochemical cycles through their contributions to primary productivity and requirement for Si during cell wall formation. Although several culture-based studies have investigated the molecular response of diatoms to Si and nitrogen (N) starvation and replenishment, diatom silicon metabolism has been understudied in natural populations. A series of deckboard Si-amendment incubations were conducted using surface water collected in the California Upwelling Zone near Monterey Bay. Steep concentration gradients in macronutrients in the surface ocean coupled with substantial N and Si utilization led to communities with distinctly different macronutrient states: replete (‘healthy’), low N (‘N-stressed’), and low N and Si (‘N- and Si-stressed’). Biogeochemical measurements of Si uptake combined with metatranscriptomic analysis of communities incubated with and without added Si were used to explore the underlying molecular response of diatom communities to different macronutrient availability. Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed that N-stressed communities exhibited dynamic shifts in N and C transcriptional patterns suggestive of compromised metabolism. Expression patterns in communities experiencing both N and Si stress imply that the presence of Si stress may partially ameliorate N stress and dampen the impact on organic matter metabolism. This response builds upon previous observations that the regulation of C and N metabolism is decoupled from Si limitation status, where Si stress allows the cell to optimize the metabolic machinery necessary to respond to episodic pulses of nutrients. Several well-characterized Si-metabolism associated genes were found to be poor molecular markers of Si physiological status; however, several uncharacterized Si-responsive genes were revealed to be potential indicators of Si stress or silica production.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 22, 2024
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  4. Abstract

    We report an assessment for determining the contribution by diatoms to community productivity and respiration within a coastal benthic ecosystem with multiple autotrophs. During summer, cores of open sediment and seagrass habitat were collected from a lagoon within the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Cores were maintained in an outdoor mesocosm. Germanic acid, an inhibitor of diatom cell division, was added to half the cores and quantification of production and respiration was done. Inhibition of diatoms reduced benthic productivity within the seagrass habitat. 71–83% production was attributable to diatoms and this contribution moved the benthic system into net autotrophy. Diatom contribution to production in other habitat‐community components was more variable (varied from 0% to 86%). Findings underscore the ecological importance of diatoms as producers in seagrass beds, the role of seagrasses in maintaining productivity, and infer that diatoms may have similar contributions in other aquatic vegetated habitats.

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  5. Abstract

    The California Current System displays a strong seasonal cycle in water properties, circulation, and biological production. Interactions of the alongshore current with coastal and topographic features lead to high spatial variability forced by seasonal winds that displace surface coastal water offshore. This process also supplies nutrients to the euphotic zone by Ekman transport and eventually supports phytoplankton blooms typically dominated by diatoms. Here, we investigate the relationship between biogenic silica production and mesoscale upwelling dynamics along the central region of the California Current System between 2013 and 2015, a period affected by a warm anomaly known as “the Blob.” Changes in the upwelling phenology along California caused by this marine heatwave are investigated using an innovative index and related to patterns of diatom production during upwelling events to evaluate diatom resilience. Based on this new index, we estimated that the nutrient supply to the euphotic zone declined by 50% during the Blob, but the Blob had little impact on local production during individual upwelling events. A statistical analysis evaluating the relationship between production and environmental conditions reveals persistent biological hotspots characterized by high biomass, depleted nutrients, and high specific production rates (up to 0.7 d−1) throughout the study period. Lower observed biogenic silica to Chlorophyll aratios during the Blob suggested a taxonomic shift from siliceous to nonsiliceous phytoplankton and/or lightly silicified diatoms signaling a change at the base of the food chain that could have ramifications for productivity in this eastern boundary coastal upwelling system.

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