Articles | Volume 13, issue 18
Biogeosciences, 13, 5205–5219, 2016

Special issue: Biogeochemical and biological response to a diazotroph bloom...

Biogeosciences, 13, 5205–5219, 2016

Research article 20 Sep 2016

Research article | 20 Sep 2016

Phytoplankton community structure in the VAHINE mesocosm experiment

Karine Leblanc1, Véronique Cornet1, Mathieu Caffin1, Martine Rodier2, Anne Desnues2, Hugo Berthelot1, Kendra Turk-Kubo3, and Jules Heliou2 Karine Leblanc et al.
  • 1Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS/INSU, Univ Toulon, IRD, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography UM110, 13288, Marseille, France
  • 2Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, IRD/CNRS/Aix-Marseille Univ, IRD Nouméa, 101 Promenade R. Laroque, BPA5, 98848, Nouméa CEDEX, New Caledonia
  • 3Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA, 95064, USA

Abstract. The VAHINE mesocosm experiment was designed to trigger a diazotroph bloom and to follow the subsequent transfer of diazotroph-derived nitrogen (DDN) in the rest of the food web. Three mesocosms (50 m3) located inside the Nouméa lagoon (New Caledonia, southwestern Pacific) were enriched with dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) in order to promote N2 fixation in these low-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (LNLC) waters. Initially, the diazotrophic community was dominated by diatom diazotroph associations (DDAs), mainly by Rhizosolenia/Richelia intracellularis, and by Trichodesmium, which fueled enough DDN to sustain the growth of other diverse diatom species and Synechococcus populations that were well adapted to limiting DIP levels. After DIP fertilization (1 µM) on day 4, an initial lag time of 10 days was necessary for the mesocosm ecosystems to start building up biomass. However, changes in community structure were already observed during this first period, with a significant drop of both Synechococcus and diatom populations, while Prochlorococcus benefited from DIP addition. At the end of this first period, corresponding to when most added DIP was consumed, the diazotroph community changed drastically and became dominated by Cyanothece-like (UCYN-C) populations, which were accompanied by a monospecific bloom of the diatom Cylindrotheca closterium. During the second period, biomass increased sharply together with primary production and N2-fixation fluxes near tripled. Diatom populations, as well as Synechococcus and nanophytoeukaryotes, showed a re-increase towards the end of the experiment, showing efficient transfer of DDN to non-diazotrophic phytoplankton.

Final-revised paper