Carbon isotopic composition of Trichodesmium spp. colonies off Bermuda: Effects of colony mass and season

Dan Tchernov, Fred Lipschultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colonies of Trichodesmium spp. are conspicuous, macroscopic components of the life in tropical and subtropical oceans. The large size and the morphology of the colony raise questions regarding the mechanism of carbon supply for photosynthesis. Constraints on these mechanisms may be indicated by the stable carbon isotopic composition (δ13C) that reflects the balance between carbon supply and speciation, as well as the growth rate and colony size. The δ13C of Trichodesmium off Bermuda measured here revealed a strong correlation between size of individual colonies and season. The smallest colonies, 2-7 μg C colony-1, showed the lightest δ13C composition (∼-19‰), increasing to asymptotic values of ∼-12‰ above 7 μg C colony-1. The average δ13C of the colonies was lightest immediately after the onset of stratification in the Sargasso Sea, gradually increasing by ∼4‰ to heavier values during the summer. We propose that the mass effect is due to increased use of HCO3- by the larger colonies, whereas the seasonal influence may be related to changes in irradiance and pCO2 affecting the internal carbon cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the BMBF grant 803/ 06. We also wish to thank the Israeli science foundation (ISF) grant 981/05.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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