31 Aug 2023
 | 31 Aug 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Change in diazotrophic community structure associated with Kuroshio succession in the northern South China Sea

Han Zhang, Guangming Mai, Weicheng Luo, Meng Chen, Ran Duan, and Tuo Shi

Abstract. Kuroshio intrusion (KI) is a key process that transports water from the Western Pacific Ocean to the northern South China Sea (nSCS), where KI-induced surface water mixing often causes variations in microbial assemblages. Yet, how interannual KIs affect biogeography of diazotrophs and associated environmental factors, remains poorly characterized. Here, by quantifying the degree of KIs in two consecutive years, coupled with monitoring the diversity and distribution of nitrogenase-encoding nifH phylotypes with quantitative PCR and high-throughput sequencing, we show that changes in the diazotrophic community structure in the nSCS are highly correlated with KI leading to variations in a range of physicochemical parameters. Specifically, the filamentous cyanobacterium Trichodesmium was more abundant at stations strongly affected by KI, and hereby with deeper mixed layer, higher surface salinity, and temperature; the unicellular N2-fixing cyanobacteria in group B (UCYN-B) were more abundant at stations least affected by KI and correlated with nutrient availability, whereas UCYN-C and the non-cyanobacterial γ-proteobacteria were prevalent at stations moderately affected by KI. Moreover, neutral community model further demonstrated that dominant diazotrophic subcommunities were more significantly affected by environmental factors in 2017 when KI was strong than in 2018 when KI appeared to have retreated. Collectively, our analyses provide insightful evidence in the role of KI succession in shaping diazotrophic community structure primarily as a stochastic process, implying a potential region-scale redistribution of diazotrophs and nitrogen budget, given that KIs are projected to intensify in a future warming ocean.

Han Zhang, Guangming Mai, Weicheng Luo, Meng Chen, Ran Duan, and Tuo Shi

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2023-126', Zhibing Jiang, 29 Sep 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Han Zhang, 12 Dec 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2023-126', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Nov 2023
Han Zhang, Guangming Mai, Weicheng Luo, Meng Chen, Ran Duan, and Tuo Shi
Han Zhang, Guangming Mai, Weicheng Luo, Meng Chen, Ran Duan, and Tuo Shi


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Short summary
We report taxon-specific biogeography of N2-fixing microbes (diazotrophs) driven by Kuroshio intrusion (KI) into the South China Sea. We show that the composition and distribution of distinct diazotrophic taxa shift with KI-induced variations in physicochemical parameters of seawater, and that KI shapes diazotrophic community as primarily a stochastic process. This study thus has implications for the redistribution of diazotrophs in a future warming ocean as KIs are projected to intensify.