MEPS 359:25-36 (2008)  -  DOI:

Nitrogen fixation and growth rates of Trichodesmium IMS-101 as a function of light intensity

E. Breitbarth1,2,*, J. Wohlers1, J. Kläs1, J. LaRoche1, I. Peeken1

1Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAR, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2Present address: Department of Chemistry, Analytical and Marine Chemistry, University of Gothenburg, Kemivägen 10,
412 96 Göteborg, Sweden

ABSTRACT: The diazotrophic cyanobacterium Trichodesmium is a significant contributor to marine nitrogen and carbon cycles and has been incorporated in biogeochemical ocean circulation models. To date, parameterization of light as a controlling factor for nitrogen fixation has been based on field observations, where factors other than light also affect Trichodesmium physiology. Here we present data on light-dependent (15 to 1100 µmol quanta m–2 s–1) diazotrophic growth from controlled laboratory experiments and their implications for modeling approaches. We supply a simple empirical model to describe nitrogen fixation by Trichodesmium in batch cultures. Diazotrophic growth of axenic Trichodesmium IMS-101 was light saturated at 180 µmol quanta m–2 s–1 and did not vary significantly at higher photon irradiances up to 1100 µmol quanta m–2 s–1carbon based ≈ 0.26 d–1). Chlorophyll a (chl a) normalized N2 fixation rates were significantly affected by light intensity during mid-exponential growth (0.74 to 4.45 mol N fixed mol chl a–1 h–1) over the range of photon irradiances tested. In contrast, nitrogen fixation rates normalized to the cellular carbon content were relatively unaffected by light intensity (0.42 to 0.59, averaging 0.5 mmol N mol particulate organic carbon [POC]–1 h–1). Trichodesmium carbon biomass can be used to estimate the nitrogen input by this diazotroph into the ocean; the maximum input rate is 350 nmol N fixed l–1 h–1.

KEY WORDS: Trichodesmium · Light · Nitrogen fixation · Marine nitrogen cycle · Marine carbon cycle · Marine cyanobacteria · Diazotrophic growth

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Cite this article as: Breitbarth E, Wohlers J, Kläs J, LaRoche J, Peeken I (2008) Nitrogen fixation and growth rates of Trichodesmium IMS-101 as a function of light intensity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 359:25-36.

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