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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 54:279-290 (2009)  -  DOI:

Remineralization of bioavailable iron by a heterotrophic dinoflagellate

Allison A. Dalbec1, Benjamin S. Twining1,2,*

1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of South Carolina, 631 Sumter St., Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
2Present address: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 180 McKown Point, PO Box 475, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The growth of phytoplankton in oligotrophic ocean waters is largely supported by nutrients remineralized through microzooplankton grazing. The bioavailability of the micronutrient Fe varies as a function of chemical speciation, but the speciation and bioavailability of Fe recycled by protozoan grazers is poorly characterized. We performed laboratory incubation experiments with cultured phytoplankton to examine the bioavailability of Fe produced by the heterotrophic dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina grazing on the centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Three different phytoplankton species (Thalassiosira weissflogii, Emiliania huxleyi and Nannochloris sp.) were grown on the remineralized Fe, and Fe uptake rates (measured with the radiotracer 55Fe) and cell growth were used to assess bioavailability. Following 14 h of grazing, 1.09 to 1.11 nmol l–1 Fe was remineralized in the presence of O. marina compared to 0.30–0.49 nmol l–1 released in grazer-free controls. The size fractionation of dissolved Fe was similar in the grazed (treatment) and non-grazed (control) cultures. The 0.02 to 0.2 µm fraction was the largest (51 to 70%), followed by the <0.02 µm fraction (32 to 44%). Remineralized Fe was rapidly accumulated internally by all phytoplankton species, with most accumulation occurring during the first 14 h. More Fe was accumulated in treatments compared to controls for all species, and cellular uptake rates were higher for remineralized Fe. These experiments confirm that microzooplankton grazing is a significant source of bioavailable Fe to marine phytoplankton in the open ocean.

KEY WORDS: Iron · Remineralization · Microzooplankton grazing · Recycle · Uptake

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Cite this article as: Dalbec AA, Twining BS (2009) Remineralization of bioavailable iron by a heterotrophic dinoflagellate. Aquat Microb Ecol 54:279-290.

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