Uptake of picophytoplankton, bacterioplankton and virioplankton by a fringing coral reef community (Ningaloo Reef, Australia)
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We examined the importance of picoplankton and virioplankton to reef trophodynamics at Ningaloo Reef, (north-western Australia), in May and November 2008. Picophytoplankton (Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes), bacterioplankton (inclusive of bacteria and Archaea), virioplankton and chlorophyll a (Chl a) were measured at five stations following the consistent wave-driven unidirectional mean flow path of seawater across the reef and into the lagoon. Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, picoeukaryotes and bacterioplankton were depleted to similar levels (~40% on average) over the fore reef, reef crest and reef flat (=‘active reef’), with negligible uptake occurring over the sandy bottom lagoon. Depletion of virioplankton also occurred but to more variable levels. Highest uptake rates, m, of picoplankton occurred over the reef crest, while uptake coefficients, S (independent of cell concentration), were similarly scaled over the reef zones, indicating no preferential uptake of any one group. Collectively, picophytoplankton, bacterioplankton and virioplankton accounted for the uptake of 29 mmol C m−2 day−1, with Synechococcus contributing the highest proportion of the removed C. Picoplankton and virioplankton accounted for 1–5 mmol N m−2 day−1 of the removed N, with bacterioplankton estimated to be a highly rich source of N. Results indicate the importance of ocean–reef interactions and the dependence of certain reef organisms on picoplanktonic supply for reef-level biogeochemistry processes.
KeywordsCoral reef Picoplankton Virus Uptake Ningaloo Reef Indian Ocean
We thank D. Krikke, F. McGregor, S. Hinrichs, A. Chalmers and K. Meyers for assistance in the field. Funding was provided by grants from the University of Western Australia (UWA), The Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences and the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (Node 3) to A.M.W.; an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant #DP0663670 to A.M.W. et al., an ARC Discovery Grant #DP0770094 to R.J.L. and postdoctoral research funding from UWA and The Australian Institute of Marine Science to N.L.P. The authors acknowledge the facilities, scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, UWA, a facility funded by The University, State and Commonwealth Governments. We finally thank two anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments that improved this manuscript.
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