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Research article2016Peer reviewed

Inorganic phosphorus enrichments in Baltic Sea water have large effects on growth, carbon fixation, and N-2 fixation by Nodularia spumigena

Olofsson, Malin; Egardt, Jenny; Singh, Arvind; Ploug, Helle


Two strains of the filamentous N-2-fixing cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena were inoculated separately in Baltic Sea water, and their growth, carbon (C)-fixation, and N-2-fixation rates were monitored during a 21 d laboratory experiment. Low amounts of P (1 mu M final concentration) were added to otherwise un-amended Baltic Sea water (< 0.5 mu M P). Exponential growth was stimulated under P-enriched conditions, indicating that the natural Baltic Sea water contained all residual nutrients essential for growth, and that N. spumigena was limited by P. The molar ratio of C to N-2 fixation was > 15 when ammonium was present at concentrations > 5 mu M on Day 0. This ratio was significantly different between the 2 strains, which indicated variable affinity for ammonium. It decreased in both strains as the ammonium concentration and C assimilation decreased and N-2 fixation increased during the experiment. After 7 d, C- and N-2-fixation rates co-varied with a relatively stable C:N fixation ratio close to or below the C:N ratio of cells (range: 4.7 to 8.6). The C:N cellular ratio and the specific N-2 fixation varied significantly between strains, emphasizing the variability of eco-physiology between strains within the same species. The average growth rate during the experiment, the accumulated biomass, and the total N-2-fixation rate were significantly higher under P-enriched compared to P-limited conditions in both strains. Hence, summers with high influx of P may stimulate growth, CO2 sequestration, and N-2 fixation by N. spumigena in the Baltic Sea.


Heterocystous cyanobacteria; Baltic Sea; Nutrient limitation; Carbon sequestration; N-2 fixation; Stable isotopes

Published in

Aquatic Microbial Ecology
2016, Volume: 77, number: 2, pages: 111-123

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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