Trait‐based analysis of subpolar North Atlantic phytoplankton and plastidic ciliate communities using automated flow cytometer

Fragoso, Glaucia Moreira; Poulton, Alex James; Pratt, Nicola Jane; Johnsen, Geir; Purdie, Duncan Alastair. 2019 Trait‐based analysis of subpolar North Atlantic phytoplankton and plastidic ciliate communities using automated flow cytometer. Limnology and Oceanography, 64 (4). 1763-1778.

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Plankton are an extremely diverse and polyphyletic group, exhibiting a large range in morphological and physiological traits. Here, we apply automated optical techniques, provided by the pulse‐shape recording automated flow cytometer—CytoSense—to investigate trait variability of phytoplankton and plastidic ciliates in Arctic and Atlantic waters of the subpolar North Atlantic. We used the bio‐optical descriptors derived from the CytoSense (light scattering [forward and sideward] and fluorescence [red, yellow/green and orange from chlorophyll a, degraded pigments, and phycobiliproteins, respectively]) and translated them into functional traits to demonstrate ecological trait variability along an environmental gradient. Cell size was the master trait varying in this study, with large photosynthetic microplankton (> 20 μm in cell diameter), including diatoms as single cells and chains, as well as plastidic ciliates found in Arctic waters, while small‐sized phytoplankton groups, such as the picoeukaryotes (< 4 μm) and the cyanobacteria Synechococcus were dominant in Atlantic waters. Morphological traits, such as chain/colony formation and structural complexity (i.e., cellular processes, setae, and internal vacuoles), appear to favor buoyancy in highly illuminated and stratified Arctic waters. In Atlantic waters, small cell size and spherical cell shape, in addition to photo‐physiological traits, such as high internal pigmentation, offer chromatic adaptation for survival in the low nutrient and dynamic mixing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The use of automated techniques that quantify ecological traits holds exciting new opportunities to unravel linkages between the structure and function of plankton communities and marine ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0024-3590
Date made live: 09 Oct 2019 12:08 +0 (UTC)

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