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Photosynthate allocation in a temperate sea over an annual cycle: the relationship between protein synthesis and phytoplankton physiological state
Suárez, I.; Marañón, E. (2003). Photosynthate allocation in a temperate sea over an annual cycle: the relationship between protein synthesis and phytoplankton physiological state. J. Sea Res. 50(4): 285-299.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Carbon fixation; Environmental factors; Photosynthesis; Phytoplankton; Primary production; Protein synthesis; Seasonal variations; Temperate zones; Vertical distribution; ANE, Spain, Cantabria [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    phytoplankton; primary production; C metabolism; protein; Bay of Biscay

Authors  Top 
  • Suárez, I.
  • Marañón, E., correspondent

    The seasonal and vertical variations in the patterns of photosynthate allocation into biomolecules by natural phytoplankton assemblages were determined, together with their species composition, in a coastal station of the central Cantabrian Sea (southern Bay of Biscay). Chlorophyll-a concentration ranged from values below 20 mg m-2 in winter to values above 80 mg m-2 during spring and during an upwelling event in summer. Low primary production rates (<300 mgC m-2 d-1) were measured during winter and during summer stratification periods. The rate of C fixation during summer upwelling conditions exceeded 3500 mgC m-2 d-1. In terms of photosynthate partitioning, proteins were the dominant fraction, as they typically accounted for >30% of total photo-assimilated C, with polysaccharides and low molecular weight metabolites showing incorporation percentages around 10-30%. Relative C incorporation into lipids was generally <15%. Recurrent patterns of vertical variability in photosynthate partitioning were observed: the relative synthesis of proteins increased toward the bottom of the euphotic zone, whereas the relative C incorporation into polysaccharides and lipids tended to be higher near the surface. When primary production decreased, the synthesis of proteins was maintained more than that of other molecules. Throughout the year, the relative synthesis of proteins was inversely correlated with phytoplankton biomass, production and growth rate. The conservation of protein synthesis under growth-limiting conditions and the enhancement of lipid and polysaccharide synthesis when irradiance is high seem to constitute general patterns of photosynthate partitioning in marine phytoplankton. In our study, these patterns represented metabolic strategies of phytoplankton in response to changing environmental factors, rather than the effect of variations in the species composition of the community.

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