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2018
Hogle, SL, Dupont CL, Hopkinson BM, King AL, Buck KN, Roe KL, Stuart RK, Allen AE, Mann EL, Johnson ZI, Barbeau KA.  2018.  Pervasive iron limitation at subsurface chlorophyll maxima of the California Current. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115:13300-13305.   10.1073/pnas.1813192115   AbstractWebsite

Subsurface chlorophyll maximum layers (SCMLs) are nearly ubiquitous in stratified water columns and exist at horizontal scales ranging from the submesoscale to the extent of oligotrophic gyres. These layers of heightened chlorophyll and/or phytoplankton concentrations are generally thought to be a consequence of a balance between light energy from above and a limiting nutrient flux from below, typically nitrate (NO3). Here we present multiple lines of evidence demonstrating that iron (Fe) limits or with light colimits phytoplankton communities in SCMLs along a primary productivity gradient from coastal to oligotrophic offshore waters in the southern California Current ecosystem. SCML phytoplankton responded markedly to added Fe or Fe/light in experimental incubations and transcripts of diatom and picoeukaryote Fe stress genes were strikingly abundant in SCML metatranscriptomes. Using a biogeochemical proxy with data from a 40-y time series, we find that diatoms growing in California Current SCMLs are persistently Fe deficient during the spring and summer growing season. We also find that the spatial extent of Fe deficiency within California Current SCMLs has significantly increased over the last 25 y in line with a regional climate index. Finally, we show that diatom Fe deficiency may be common in the subsurface of major upwelling zones worldwide. Our results have important implications for our understanding of the biogeochemical consequences of marine SCML formation and maintenance.

2019
Chappell, PD, Armbrust EV, Barbeau KA, Bundy RM, Moffett JW, Vedamati J, Jenkins BD.  2019.  Patterns of diatom diversity correlate with dissolved trace metal concentrations and longitudinal position in the northeast Pacific coastal-offshore transition zone. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 609:69-86.   10.3354/meps12810   AbstractWebsite

Diatoms are important primary producers in the northeast Pacific Ocean, with their productivity closely linked to pulses of trace elements in the western high nitrate, low chlorophyll (HNLC) region of the oceanographic time series transect 'Line P.' Recently, the coastal-HNLC transition zone of the Line P transect was identified as a hotspot of phytoplankton productivity, potentially controlled by a combination of trace element and macronutrient concentrations. Here we describe diatom community composition in the eastern Line P transect, including the coastal- HNLC transition zone, with a method using high-throughput sequencing of diatom 18S gene amplicons. We identified significant correlations between shifting diatom community composition and longitude combined with concentrations of dissolved copper and 2 other dissolved trace metals (dissolved Fe [dFe] and/or dissolved zinc) and/or a physical factor (salinity or density). None of these variables on its own was significantly correlated with shifts in community composition, and 3 of the factors (dFe, salinity, and density) correlated with one another. Longitude could incorporate multiple factors that may influence diatom communities, including distance from shore, proximity of sampling stations, and an integration of previous pulses of macro- and micro-nutrients. We also evaluated in situ Fe limitation of the diatom Thalassiosira oceanica using a quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction method, and found biological evidence of Fe stress in samples from the coastal-HNLC transition zone. Combined, our results support a prior hypothesis that dissolved trace metals as well as longitudinal distance may be important to diatom diversity in the coastal-HNLC transition zone of the Line P transect.