Nitrogen uptake by phytoplankton and bacteria during an induced Phaeocystis pouchetii bloom, measured using size fractionation and flow cytometric sorting Academic Article uri icon


  • Uptake of inorganic and organic nitrogen (N) by phytoplankton and bacteria was investigated during a mesocosm study conducted in Raunefjord, Norway in April 2005. One mesocosm was fertilized with nitrate and phosphate at a ratio of 16:1 and maintained in the light, while one unamended light mesocosm served as a control. Dissolved nutrients, phytoplankton and bacterial biomass, and phytoplankton community composition were monitored throughout the 26 d experiment. Uptake of 15N-labeled ammonium and nitrate, and dual-labeled (15N and 13C) urea and dissolved free amino acids (DFAA) was measured for phytoplankton and bacteria using 2 methods: size fractionation into 0.2-0.8 and >0.8 m size classes, and flow cytometric sorting based on chlorophyll autofluorescence. Prior to fertilization, dissolved inorganic N concentrations were low and comprised 5% of total dissolved N. Added nitrate was completely utilized in the amended mesocosm within 10 d, stimulating a large bloom of colonial Phaeocystis pouchetii. Ammonium contributed over half of total measured N uptake by phytoplankton and bacteria in both enclosures, while nitrate and urea each supplied roughly 10 to 25%. Overall, DFAA were a negligible N source to phytoplankton but contributed 11% to total bacterial N uptake. Bacterial uptake represented a significant portion of total uptake of all N forms, especially urea and DFAA. Comparison of the 2 methods for measuring phytoplankton versus bacterial uptake demonstrates how the use of 0.8 m filters can lead to significant overestimation of phytoplankton N uptake due to the retention of bacterial biomass. Inter-Research 2010.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bradley, P. B., Sanderson, M. P., Nejstgaard, J. C., Sazhin, A. F., Frischer, M. E., Killberg-Thoreson, L. M., ... Bronk, D. A.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Bradley, PB||Sanderson, MP||Nejstgaard, JC||Sazhin, AF||Frischer, ME||Killberg-Thoreson, LM||Verity, PG||Campbell, L||Bronk, DA

publication date

  • August 2010