AME 69:69-80 (2013)  -  doi:10.3354/ame01621

Dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon release by a marine unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacterium

Mar Benavides1,*, Nona S. R. Agawin2, Javier Arístegui1, Jan Peene3, Lucas J. Stal3,4 

1Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
2Departament de Biologia, Universitat de les Illes Balears, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
3Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ), Department of Marine Microbiology, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
4Department of Aquatic Microbiology, IBED, University of Amsterdam, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Dinitrogen (N2) fixation rates may be underestimated when recently fixed N2 is released as dissolved organic nitrogen (DON). DON release (DONr) is substantial in the filamentous cyanobacterium Trichodesmium but has never been reported in unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacteria. We used axenic cultures of the marine unicellular diazotroph Cyanothece sp. Miami BG 043511 to measure dissolved organic matter release under N2-fixing conditions. DONr was measured as the transfer of 15N2 from the culture medium to the extracellular DON pool. On average, the DON released represented ~1% of the total N2 fixed. The average release of dissolved organic carbon, as determined by 14C, represented ~2% of the total carbon fixed. These results suggest that cultured populations of unicellular diazotrophs do not release much dissolved organic matter, but it cannot be excluded that DONr is important in the field when grazers and bacteria are present, or when the organism is exposed to environmental stresses such as turbulence, excess light, temperature changes, or nutrient limitation.


KEY WORDS: N2 fixation · DON release · Unicellular cyanobacteria · Cyanothece


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Cite this article as: Benavides M, Agawin NSR, Arístegui J, Peene J, Stal LJ (2013) Dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon release by a marine unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacterium. Aquat Microb Ecol 69:69-80

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