Marine nitrogen fixation: Cyanobacterial nitrogen fixation and the fate of new nitrogen in the Baltic Sea
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Biogeochemical processes in the marine biosphere are important in global element cycling and greatly influence the gas composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. The nitrogen cycle is a key component of marine biogeochemical cycles. Nitrogen is an essential constituent of living organisms, but bioavailable nitrogen is often short in supply thus limiting primary production. The largest input of nitrogen to the marine environment is by N2-fixation, the transformation of inert N2 gas into bioavailable ammonium by a distinct group of microbes. Hence, N2-fixation bypasses nitrogen limitation and stimulates productivity in oligotrophic regions of the marine biosphere.
Extensive blooms of N2-fixing cyanobacteria occur regularly during summer in the Baltic Sea. N2-fixation during these blooms adds several hundred kilotons of new nitrogen into the Baltic Proper, which is similar in magnitude to the annual nitrogen load by riverine discharge and more than twice the atmospheric nitrogen deposition in this area. N2-fixing cyanobacteria are therefore a critical constituent of nitrogen cycling in the Baltic Sea. In this thesis N2 fixation of common cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea and the direct fate of newly fixed nitrogen in otherwise nitrogen-impoverished waters were investigated. Initially, the commonly used 15N-stable isotope assay for N2-fixation measurements was evaluated and optimized in terms of reliability and practicality (Paper I), and later applied for N2-fixation assessments (Paper II–IV). N2 fixation in surface waters of the Baltic Sea was restricted to large filamentous heterocystous cyanobacteria (Aphanizomenon sp., Nodularia spumigena, Dolichospermum spp.) and absent in smaller filamentous cyanobacteria such as Pseudanabaena sp., and unicellular and colonial picocyanobacteria (Paper II-III). Most of the N2-fixation in the Northern Baltic Proper was contributed by Aphanizomenon sp. due to its high abundance throughout the summer and similar rates of specific N2-fixation as Dolichospermum spp. and N. spumigena. Specific N2 fixation was substantially higher near the coast than in an offshore region (Paper II). Half of the fixed nitrogen was released as ammonium at the site near the coast and taken up by non-N2-fixing organisms including phototrophic and heterotrophic, prokaryotic and eukaryotic planktonic organisms. Newly fixed nitrogen was thereby rapidly turned-over in the nitrogen-depleted waters (Paper III). In colonies of N. spumigena even the potential for a complete nitrogen cycle condensed to a microcosm of a few millimeters could be demonstrated (Paper IV). Cyanobacterial colonies can therefore be hot-spots of nitrogen transformation processes potentially including nitrogen gain, recycling and loss processes. In conclusion, blooms of cyanobacteria are instrumental for productivity and CO2 sequestration in the Baltic Sea. These findings advance our understanding of biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem functioning in relation to cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea with relevance for both ecosystem-based management in the Baltic Sea, and N2-fixation and nitrogen cycling in the global ocean.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2015. , 41 p.
biogeochemistry, nitrogen cycling, nitrogen fixation, cyanobacteria, Baltic Sea
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122080ISBN: 978-91-7649-278-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-122080DiVA: diva2:862764
2015-11-27, sal P216, NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 A, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Riemann, Lasse, Professor
Ploug, Helle, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.2015-11-052015-10-232015-12-15Bibliographically approved
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