The combined effects of seasonal community succession and adaptive algal physiology on lipid profiles of coastal phytoplankton in the western English channel

White, DA; Widdicombe, CE; Somerfield, PJ; Airs, RL; Tarran, GA; Maud, JL; Atkinson, A. 2015 The combined effects of seasonal community succession and adaptive algal physiology on lipid profiles of coastal phytoplankton in the western English channel. Marine Chemistry. (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

Lipids are key constituents of marine phytoplankton, and some fatty acids (key constituents of lipids) are essential dietary components for secondary producers. However, in natural marine ecosystems the interactions of factors affecting seasonal phytoplankton lipid composition are still poorly understood. The aim of this study was to assess the roles of seasonal succession in phytoplankton community composition and nutrient concentrations, on the lipid composition of the phytoplankton community. Fatty acid and polar lipid composition in seston was measured in surface waters at the time series station L4, an inshore station in the Western English Channel, from January to December 2013. Redundancy analyses (RDA) were used to identify factors (abiotic and biotic) that explained the seasonal variability in phytoplankton lipids. RDA demonstrated that nutrients (namely nitrogen) explained the majority of variation in phytoplankton lipid composition, as well as a smaller explanatory contribution from changes in phytoplankton community composition. The physiological adaptations of the phytoplankton community to nutrient deplete conditions during the summer season when the water column was stratified, was further supported by changes in the polar lipid to phytoplankton biomass ratios (also modelled with RDA) and increases in the lipid to chlorophyll a ratios, which are both indicative of nutrient stress. However, the association of key fatty acid markers with phytoplankton groups e.g. 22:6 n-3 and dinoflagellate biomass (predominant in summer), meant there were no clear seasonal differences in the overall degree of fatty acid saturation, as might have been expected from typical nutrient stress on phytoplankton. Based on the use of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) as markers of ‘food quality’ for grazers, our results suggest that in this environment high food quality is maintained throughout summer, due to seasonal succession towards flagellated phytoplankton species able to maintain PUFA synthesis under surface layer nutrient depletion.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Chemistry
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: Daniel White
Date made live: 27 Oct 2015 17:04
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:14
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/6690

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