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GROWTH AND CARBON CONTENT OF THREE DIFFERENT-SIZED DIAZOTROPHIC CYANOBACTERIA OBSERVED IN THE SUBTROPICAL NORTH PACIFIC1

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  • 1

    Received 22 January 2008. Accepted 14 March 2008.

Abstract

To develop tools for modeling diazotrophic growth in the open ocean, we determined the maximum growth rate and carbon content for three diazotrophic cyanobacteria commonly observed at Station ALOHA (A Long-term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment) in the subtropical North Pacific: filamentous nonheterocyst-forming Trichodesmium and unicellular Groups A and B. Growth-irradiance responses of Trichodesmium erythraeum Ehrenb. strain IMS101 and Crocosphaera watsonii J. Waterbury strain WH8501 were measured in the laboratory. No significant differences were detected between their fitted parameters (±CI) for maximum growth rate (0.51 ± 0.09 vs. 0.49 ± 0.17 d−1), half-light saturation (73 ± 29 vs. 66 ± 37 μmol quanta · m−2 · s−1), and photoinhibition (0 and 0.00043 ± 0.00087 [μmol quanta · m−2 · s−1]−1). Maximum growth rates and carbon contents of Trichodesmium and Crocosphaera cultures conformed to published allometric relationships, demonstrating that these relationships apply to oceanic diazotrophic microorganisms. This agreement promoted the use of allometric models to approximate unknown parameters of maximum growth rate (0.77 d−1) and carbon content (480 fg C · μm−3) for the uncultivated, unicellular Group A cyanobacteria. The size of Group A was characterized from samples from the North Pacific Ocean using fluorescence-activated cell sorting and real-time quantitative PCR techniques. Knowledge of growth and carbon content properties of these organisms facilitates the incorporation of different types of cyanobacteria in modeling efforts aimed at assessing the relative importance of filamentous and unicellular diazotrophs to carbon and nitrogen cycling in the open ocean.

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