, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 174-186,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 25 Aug 2009

Dinitrogen-Fixing Cyanobacteria in Microbial Mats of Two Shallow Coral Reef Ecosystems


Dinitrogen-fixing organisms in cyanobacterial mats were studied in two shallow coral reef ecosystems: La Reunion Island, southwestern Indian Ocean, Sesoko (Okinawa) Island, and northwestern Pacific Ocean. Rapidly expanding benthic miniblooms, frequently dominated by a single cyanobacterial taxon, were identified by microscopy and molecular tools. In addition, nitrogenase activity by these blooms was measured in situ. Dinitrogen fixation and its contribution to mat primary production were calculated using 15N2 and 13C methods. Dinitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria from mats in La Reunion and Sesoko showed few differences in taxonomic composition. Anabaena sp. among heterocystous and Hydrocoleum majus and Symploca hydnoides among nonheterocystous cyanobacteria occurred in microbial mats of both sites. Oscillatoria bonnemaisonii and Leptolyngbya spp. occurred only in La Reunion, whereas Hydrocoleum coccineum dominated in Sesoko. Other mats dominated by Hydrocoleum lyngbyaceum, Phormidium laysanense, and Trichocoleus tenerrimus occurred at lower frequencies. The 24-h nitrogenase activity, as measured by acetylene reduction, varied between 11 and 324 nmoles C2H2 reduced µg−1 Chl a. The highest values were achieved by heterocystous Anabaena sp. performed mostly during the day. Highest values for nonheterocystous cyanobacteria were achieved by H. coccineum mostly during the night. Daily nitrogen fixation varied from nine (Leptolyngbya) to 238 nmoles N2 µg−1 Chl day−1 (H. coccineum). Primary production rates ranged from 1,321 (S. hydnoides) to 9,933 nmoles C µg−1 Chl day−1 (H. coccineum). Dinitrogen fixation satisfied between 5% and 21% of the nitrogen required for primary production.