Iron and phosphorus co-limit nitrogen fixation in the eastern tropical North Atlantic.

Mills, Matthew M., Ridame, Celine, Davey, Margaret, LaRoche, Julie and Geider, Richard J. (2004) Iron and phosphorus co-limit nitrogen fixation in the eastern tropical North Atlantic. Nature, 429 . pp. 292-294. DOI 10.1038/nature02550.

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Supplementary data:

Abstract

The role of iron in enhancing phytoplankton productivity in high nutrient, low chlorophyll oceanic regions was demonstrated first through iron-addition bioassay experiments1 and subsequently confirmed by large-scale iron fertilization experiments2. Iron supply has been hypothesized to limit nitrogen fixation and hence oceanic primary productivity on geological timescales3, providing an alternative to phosphorus as the ultimate limiting nutrient4. Oceanographic observations have been interpreted both to confirm and refute this hypothesis5, 6, but direct experimental evidence is lacking7. We conducted experiments to test this hypothesis during the Meteor 55 cruise to the tropical North Atlantic. This region is rich in diazotrophs8 and strongly impacted by Saharan dust input9. Here we show that community primary productivity was nitrogen-limited, and that nitrogen fixation was co-limited by iron and phosphorus. Saharan dust addition stimulated nitrogen fixation, presumably by supplying both iron and phosphorus10, 11. Our results support the hypothesis that aeolian mineral dust deposition promotes nitrogen fixation in the eastern tropical North Atlantic.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1038/nature02550
ISSN: 0028-0836
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2009 15:38
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2017 12:08
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/2108

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