Photoacclimation of natural phytoplankton communities Public Deposited

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  • ABSTRACT: Phytoplankton regulate internal pigment concentrations in response to light and nutrient availability. Chlorophyll a to phytoplankton carbon ratios (chl:C phyto) are commonly reported as a function of growth irradiance (Eg) for evaluating the photoacclimation response of phytoplankton. In contrast to most culture experiments, natural phytoplankton communities experience fluctuating environmental conditions, making it difficult to compare field and lab observations. Observing and understanding photoacclimation in nature is important for deciphering changes in chl:C phyto resulting from environmental forcings and for accurately estimating net primary production (NPP) in models which rely on a parameterized description of photoacclimation. Here we employ direct analytical measurements of C phyto and parallel high-resolution biomass estimates from particulate backscattering (bbp) and flow cytometry to investigate chl:C phyto in natural phytoplankton communities. Chl:C phyto observed over a wide range of Eg in the field was consistent with photoacclimation responses inferred from satellite observations. Field-based photoacclimation observations for a mixed natural community contrast with laboratory results for single species grown in continuous light and nutrient-replete conditions. Applying a carbon-based NPP model to our field data for a north-south transect in the Atlantic Ocean results in estimates that closely match 14C depth-integrated NPP for the same cruise and with historical records for the distinct biogeographic regions of the Atlantic Ocean. Our results are consistent with previous satellite and model observations of cells growing in natural or fluctuating light and showcase how direct measurements of Cphyto can be applied to explore phytoplankton photophysiology, growth rates, and production at high spatial resolution in situ.
  • KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton carbon · Chlorophyll · Growth irradiance · Photoacclimation · Growth rate · Primary production · Nutrients
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  • Graff, J. R., Westberry, T. K., Milligan, A. J., Brown, M. B., Olmo, G. D., Reifel, K. M., & Behrenfeld, M. J. (2016). Photoacclimation of natural phytoplankton communities. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 542, 51-62. doi:10.3354/meps11539
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  • 542
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  • This work was funded by NASA Grant NNX10AT70G to M. Behrenfeld. This study was also supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council National Capability Funding to Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. This is contribution number 261 of the AMT Programme. We thank the NOAA Tropical Atmospheric Ocean Program and LCDR Brian Lake and the 22nd Atlantic Meridional Transect Programme and the Principal Scientist Glen Tarran for providing field support to carry out this research.
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