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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 484:79-95 (2013)  -  DOI:

Diversity and germination patterns of diatom resting stages at a coastal Mediterranean site

Marina Montresor*, Carmen Di Prisco, Diana Sarno, Francesca Margiotta, Adriana Zingone

Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, 80121 Naples, Italy

ABSTRACT: Many planktonic diatoms produce resting stages that survive in the sediment and allow species persistence over periods in which vegetative growth does not occur. With the aim of depicting the annual variability of diatom benthic stage production and understanding the relationships between planktonic and benthic dynamics, we quantified diatoms in surface waters and their viable resting stages in surface sediments at the long-term ecological research station MareChiara (LTER-MC) in the Gulf of Naples (Mediterranean Sea) over 15 mo. A considerable fraction of the diatom species recorded in the water column was also obtained from germination in surface sediments, showing that the formation of resting stages is a widespread life strategy in coastal areas. The most abundant taxa recorded in the plankton were several species of the genera Chaetoceros, Skeletonema, Thalassiosira, Cyclotella, Pseudo-nitzschia and Bacteriastrum. Species of the latter 2 genera were never retrieved from the sediment. Peaks of viable resting stages were generally recorded in the same period as blooms of the individual species in the plankton. Repeated germination experiments with the same sediments demonstrated that some species are more resistant than others to prolonged darkness, while different daylength conditions did not produce a clear effect on germination patterns. This first time-series analysis of a coastal seed bank demonstrates that the assemblage of viable diatoms in the sediment varies over the year, reflecting the diatom dynamics in the water column, but also species-specific characteristics in survival capability and likely the disturbance due to biotic and abiotic factors.

KEY WORDS: Diatoms · Resting stages · Germination · Most probable number · MPN · Long-term ecological research station MareChiara · LTER-MC · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Montresor M, Di Prisco C, Sarno D, Margiotta F, Zingone A (2013) Diversity and germination patterns of diatom resting stages at a coastal Mediterranean site. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 484:79-95.

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