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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 438:33-46 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09297

Sensitivity of N2 fixation to combined nitrogen forms (NO3 and NH4+) in two strains of the marine diazotroph Crocosphaera watsonii (Cyanobacteria)

Julien Dekaezemacker1,*, Sophie Bonnet2

1Université de la Méditerranée (Aix-Marseille II), and 2IRD, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Biogéochimique, Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille, Faculté des Sciences de Luminy, 13288 Marseille cedex 9, France

ABSTRACT: Despite the increasing recognition of the biogeochemical importance of marine unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacteria, the environmental factors controlling their distribution and activity in the ocean are still very poorly understood. In particular, very few studies have considered the effect of combined nitrogen (N) on unicellular diazotroph activity, although their presence has been reported in surface waters exhibiting micromolar concentrations of dissolved in­organic nitrogen (DIN). Here, we studied the effect of nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4+) ad­ditions (0.2 to 10 µmol l−1) on N2 fixation and N uptake in 2 strains of Crocosphaera watsonii (WH8501 and WH0003) maintained in batch cultures in an N-free medium (YBC II) and a 12 h light:12 h dark cycle. Compared with the untreated control, increasing concentrations of NH4+ to 10 µmol l−1 rapidly inhibited night-integrated N2 fixation by up to 36 and 83% for WH8501 and WH0003, respectively. In contrast, night-integrated N2 fixation was not significantly inhibited at any NO3 concentration. These results contrast with data obtained on Trichodesmium spp. (Cyano­bacteria) in which night-integrated N2 fixation is inhibited up to 50% at the same NO3 concentrations. This study indicates that C. watsonii is able to take up combined nitrogen while keeping its ability to fix dinitrogen at high rates.


KEY WORDS: Crocosphaera watsonii · Cyanobacteria · Inhibition · N2 fixation · Ammonium  · Nitrate · Nitrogen uptake


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Cite this article as: Dekaezemacker J, Bonnet S (2011) Sensitivity of N2 fixation to combined nitrogen forms (NO3 and NH4+) in two strains of the marine diazotroph Crocosphaera watsonii (Cyanobacteria). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 438:33-46. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09297

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