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Aquatic Microbial Ecology








Laboratory culture experiments were used to investigate the growth rate of colonial Phaeocystis anarctica as a function of irradiance and dissolved iron concentration. The experiments were conducted with a P. antarctica strain isolated from the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica, and made use of natural, low-iron (P. antarctica attained an average maximum cell-specific growth rate of 0.37 d-1at an irradiance of 68 μE m-2s-1, above which growth rates decreased to 0.27 d-1 at an irradiance of 314 μE m-2s-1. The dependence of growth rate on ambient dissolved iron concentration was examined in dose-response type bioassay experiments using realistic subnanomolar additions of dissolved iron. The experimental results indicate significant changes in the iron requirements for growth of colonial P. antarctica as a function of irradiance, with our estimates of the half-saturation constant for growth with respect to dissolved iron (Kμ) ranging from 0.26 nM at ~20 μE m-2s-1, to 0.045 nM at similar to 40 μE m-2s-1 and to 0.19 nM at ~ 90 μE m-2 s-1. We interpret these variations in K, as reflecting an increase in the cellular iron requirements of colonial P. antarctica at suboptimal and supraoptimal irradiance, such that the cells require higher ambient dissolved iron concentrations to attain maximum growth rates under Such irradiance conditions. The experiments also provide evidence of a relationship between iron availability and the relative proportion of colonial versus solitary P. antarctica cells, whereby the colonial form appears to be favored by higher dissolved iron concentrations. Our experimental results suggest that the initiation and termination of colonial P. antarctica blooms in the Ross Sea are determined by the combined effects of irradiance-driven changes in cellular iron requirements and a seasonal decrease in dissolved iron availability.

Original Publication Citation

Garcia, N.S., Sedwick, P.N., & DiTullio, G.R. (2009). Influence of irradiance and iron on the growth of colonial Phaeocystis antarctica: Implications for seasonal bloom dynamics in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 57(2), 203-220. doi: 10.3354/ame01334