MEPS 252:15-33 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps252015

Iron and zinc effects on silicic acid and nitrate uptake kinetics in three high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regions

Valerie M. Franck1,4,*, Kenneth W. Bruland2, David A. Hutchins3, Mark A. Brzezinski1

1Marine Science Institute and the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
2Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA
3College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, Delaware 19958, USA
4Present address: School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Rd., Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: Effects of Fe and Zn availabilities on silicic acid (Si(OH)4) and nitrate (NO3-) uptake kinetics in natural phytoplankton assemblages were investigated in 3 high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regions: off central California, the Southern Ocean and the eastern tropical Pacific. Fe addition significantly increased the maximum potential uptake rate (Vmax) of Si(OH)4 (Si Vmax) by 2 to 3 times relative to controls in 8 of 10 experiments. Fe addition significantly increased the maximum potential uptake rate of nitrate (NO3- Vmax) by 2 to 3 times in all 6 experiments measuring the effect of Fe on NO3- Vmax. Four experiments quantified the effect of Zn addition on Si Vmax and NO3- Vmax. Zn had a significant effect on Si Vmax in only 1 experiment, increasing values 2-fold relative to controls. Zn addition had significant effects on NO3- Vmax in 3 experiments, increasing NO3- Vmax almost 2-fold in 1 instance and decreasing NO3- Vmax by 23 to 46% in 2 instances. Combined Fe and Zn additions had effects on Si and NO3- Vmax that were similar to those of Fe addition alone. In 4 experiments measuring Fe and Zn effects on the half-saturation constant (Ks) for Si(OH)4 uptake (Si Ks), Fe addition increased Si Ks over 3-fold relative to controls in one experiment and Zn addition decreased it by 61% in another. The effect of Fe and Zn addition on the half-saturation constant for NO3- uptake (NO3- Ks) could only be measured at 1 location. Here, Fe addition had no effect, and Zn addition alone and in combination with Fe decreased NO3- Ks by 68%. Si(OH)4:NO3- drawdown ratios calculated from changes in nutrient concentrations during the experiments were very similar to Si Vmax:NO3- Vmax ratios measured at the end of the experiments using tracers, and the effects of Fe and Zn addition on drawdown ratios paralleled the effects of Fe and Zn on Vmax ratios. In general, changes in Si(OH)4:NO3- drawdown and Vmax ratios were driven by changes in NO3- drawdown and NO3- Vmax. Our data show that Fe and Zn availabilities have a direct effect on Si(OH)4 and NO3- uptake kinetics in natural phytoplankton assemblages in HNLC regions, and that changes in kinetic parameters may be driving changes in nutrient drawdown ratios, providing further proof that Fe limitation may accelerate the Œsilica pump¹ and lead to seasonal Si(OH)4 limitation. These results have significant implications for Si and N biogeochemistry and new production in low-Fe regions. Changes in nutrient uptake kinetics can also have important implications for phytoplankton species succession and ecological dynamics.


KEY WORDS: Nutrient uptake kinetics · Iron limitation · Zinc limitation · California · Eastern tropical Pacific · Southern Ocean


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