Impact of CO2 on the elemental composition of the particulate and dissolved organic matter of marine diatoms emerged after nitrate depletion

Although the dissolved inorganic carbon concentration, pH, and nutrient regimes of seawater dramatically change in coastal regions, the synergistic effects of changes in the CO2 and nutrient levels on the elemental dynamics of the particulate and dissolved organic matters (DOMs) produced by diatoms are rarely investigated. Here, we investigated the impacts of four different CO2 levels (180, 380, 600, and 1000 μatm partial pressure of CO2 : pCO2) on the allocation of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and silicon between the particulate matter (PM) and DOM in two cosmopolitan coastal diatoms, Chaetoceros affinis and Ditylum brightwellii, under nutrient‐replete and nitrate‐depleted conditions. Under nutrient‐replete conditions, the specific growth rates of both species were positively correlated with pCO2 levels. The elemental compositions of the exponentially growing diatoms were stable under the different pCO2 conditions. After nitrate depletion, the particulate organic carbon to particulate nitrogen ratio and biogenic silica content per unit biomass in both species were positively correlated with the pCO2 value. Factors affecting the pCO2 dependent change in elemental composition were the variations in the partitioning of organic carbon between PM and DOM in C. affinis, and the physiological uncoupling of intracellular carbon and nitrogen and the intracellular silicon and nitrogen, as well as resting spore formation in D. brightwellii. Under high‐CO2 conditions, the faster growth rates of both diatom species could lead to their dominance in a phytoplankton community; their blooms could modify the first‐order processes in the biogeochemical cycling of bioelements after nitrate depletion.

Sugie K., Yoshimura T. & Wakita M., in press. Impact of CO2 on the elemental composition of the particulate and dissolved organic matter of marine diatoms emerged after nitrate depletion. Limnology and Oceanography. Article (subscription required).


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