Diazotrophic bacteria respond to Saharan dust additions
Langlois, Rebecca J.
Mills, Matthew M.
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Three bioassay experiments were performed to study the effects of nutrient and Saharan dust additions on natural diazotrophic communities in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Samples for nucleic acid analysis were collected at the beginning and end of 48 h incubations. TaqMan probes specific to 7 diazotrophic phylotypes, viz. filamentous cyanobacteria (Trichodesmium spp.), unicellular cyanobacterial (UCYN) Groups A, B, and C, Gamma A and P Proteobacteria, and Cluster III, were used to quantify nifH DNA abundances. N-2 fixation rates were measured in the same experiments using the N-15(2) gas bubble injection method. N-2 fixation was co-limited by P and Fe. Total nifH abundances increased relative to the control with additions of either Fe or P or both in combination. Additions of dissolved N, alone or in combination with phosphate, induced increases in UCYN-A and Gamma A nifH compared with the control. Saharan dust additions significantly stimulated fixation rates. Abundances of all cyanobacterial and Gamma A nifH phylotypes at least doubled after Saharan dust additions where surface water dissolved Fe concentrations were <2 nmol l(-1). Laboratory experiments with cultures of T. erythraeum demonstrated that dust addition promoted colony formation and the persistence of T. erythraeum biomass relative to cultures to which no Fe was added. Our results with both field and laboratory experiments indicate that Saharan dust positively affects diazotrophic phylotype abundances and changes T. erythraeum colony morphology.
Langlois, Rebecca J., Matthew M. Mills, Celine Ridame, Peter Croot, et al. 2012. "Diazotrophic bacteria respond to Saharan dust additions." Marine Ecology Progress Series 470: 1-14. doi:10.3354/meps10109