Plant and Soil

, Volume 137, Issue 1, pp 13–16

Diurnal and seasonal variations of nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in cyanobacterial mats


  • M. Villbrandt
    • Geomicrobiology Division/ICBMUniversity of Oldenburg
  • W. E. Krumbein
    • Geomicrobiology Division/ICBMUniversity of Oldenburg
  • L. J. Stal
    • Laboratory for MicrobiologyUniversity of Amsterdam

DOI: 10.1007/BF02187426

Cite this article as:
Villbrandt, M., Krumbein, W.E. & Stal, L.J. Plant Soil (1991) 137: 13. doi:10.1007/BF02187426


In situ measurements of nitrogenase activity and photosynthesis were performed simultaneously in cyanobacterial mats of intertidal sand flats of the Southern North Sea. Two types of cyanobacterial mats, which differed in species composition and biomass content, were investigated. The measurements were done monthly during 3 years to detect seasonal variations of nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis. Diurnal variations were investigated as well. The results showed that (i) freshly colonized sediment with the cyanobacteriumOscillatoria limosa as the dominant organism revealed the highest specific nitrogenase activities (ii) nitrogenase activities were highest in spring and summer, when mat development was initiated and (iii) diurnal fluctuations of nitrogenase activity indicated that it occurred temporally separated from oxygenic photosynthesis.

Key words

cyanobacteriamicrobial matsnitrogen fixationOscillatoria limosa
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991