Hartmann, Manuela, Grob, Carolina, Scanlan, David J., Martin, Adrian P., Burkill, Peter H. and Zubkov, Mikhail V.
Comparison of phosphate uptake rates by the smallest plastidic and aplastidic protists in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre
FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 78, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01160.x).
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The smallest phototrophic protists (<3 ?m) are important primary producers in oligotrophic subtropical gyres – the Earth's largest ecosystems. In order to elucidate how these protists meet their inorganic nutrient requirements, we compared the phosphate uptake rates of plastidic and aplastidic protists in the phosphate-depleted subtropical and tropical North Atlantic (4–29°N) using a combination of radiotracers and flow cytometric sorting on two Atlantic Meridional Transect cruises. Plastidic protists were divided into two groups according to their size (<2 and 2–3 ?m). Both groups of plastidic protists showed higher phosphate uptake rates per cell than the aplastidic protists. Although the phosphate uptake rates of protist cells were on average seven times (P<0.001) higher than those of bacterioplankton, the biomass-specific phosphate uptake rates of protists were one fourth to one twentieth of an average bacterioplankton cell. The unsustainably low biomass-specific phosphate uptake by both plastidic and aplastidic protists suggests the existence of a common alternative means of phosphorus acquisition – predation on phosphorus-rich bacterioplankton cells.
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