J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2007, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (3): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2007.00347.x

Special Issue: Ecology and Global Changes

• Bioenergy Plants •    

Distribution Pattern of Photosynthetic Picoplankton and Heterotrophic Bacteria in the Northern South China Sea

Yu-Ming Cai, Xiu-Ren Ning, Cheng-Gang Liu and Qiang Hao   

Abstract: The environmental regulation of picoplankton distribution in the northern South China Sea was examined in winter and summer of 2004. The average abundance of Synechococcus, Prochlorococcus, and heterotrophic bacteria was lower in winter (30, 21, and 780?03 cells/cm3, respectively) than in summer (53, 85, and 1 090?03 cells/cm3, respectively), but the seasonal pattern was opposite for picoeukaryotic phytoplankton (4 500 and 3 200 cells/cm3 in winter and summer, respectively). Synechococcus, picoeukaryotes, and bacteria were most abundant in the nutrient-rich coastal zone and continental shelf, but Prochlorococcus was most abundant in the continental slope and open ocean. The vertical distribution of each photosynthetic group and heterotrophic bacteria changed between the two seasons. Synechococcus populations with apparently different phycoerythrobilin content occurred at many stations in the summer. In addition, two different populations of Prochlorococcus were found: (i) small, weakly fluorescing cells in the surface layer; and (ii) larger, strongly fluorescent cells in the deep layer. The distribution pattern of photosynthetic picoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria depends on environmental effects and their ecophysiological differences. The distribution of Synechococcus appeared to be related to nutrient availability, whereas the distribution of Prochlorococcus appeared to be limited by temperature. Synechococcus was the only picophytoplankton with a consistent strong relationship with bacteria.

Key words: diel variation, heterotrophic bacteria, photosynthetic picoeukaryotes, Prochlorococcus, South China Sea, spatial distribution structure, standing stock, Synechococcus.

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