• Cylindrotheca closterium;
  • diatoms;
  • marine snow;
  • nitrogen;
  • phosphorus;
  • photosynthesis;
  • polysaccharide;
  • EPS;
  • transparent extracellular polymer particles

The carbon partitioning of the epipelic diatom Cylindrotheca closterium (Ehrenberg) Reiman and Lewin isolated from the Adriatic Sea was studied in the laboratory under varying scenarios of nutrient limitation. Total number of cells, photosynthesis measured at 695 μmol photons·m2·s1 irradiance (P695-μmol), chlorophyll (a+c) content, respiration, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), total particulate carbohydrate (TPC), and dissolved carbohydrate were evaluated under nitrogen and phosphorus deficiencies in culture. The highest total number of cells was found in the control, whereas the nitrogen-limited treatment showed the lowest value. During the transition phase of growth, photosynthesis in the nitrogen-limited treatment was 3-fold lower than in the phosphorus-limited treatment and 4-fold lower than in the control. Differences in respiration rates and chlorophyll (a+c) content were even more marked. Dissolved carbohydrate remained the same in all the treatments, whereas during the transition and stationary phase, EPS presented the highest values under phosphorus limitation and the lowest in the control treatment. The production of EPS was closely linked to the periods of carbon assimilation (transition phase) in the nutrient depleted treatments, especially in the phosphorus-limited treatment. These results point out the relevance of the nutrient imbalance (nitrogen or phosphorus) in the production of EPS by the benthic or resuspended diatoms and suggest that these diatoms play an important role in nutrient-unbalanced systems like sediments or marine snow.