Theoretical size controls of the giant Phaeocystis globosa colonies
An unusual characteristic of the cosmopolitan haptophyte Phaeocystis globosa is its ability to form colonies of strikingly large size-up to 3 cm in diameter. The large size and the presence of a mucoid envelope are believed to contribute to the formation of dense blooms in Southeast Asia. We collected colonies of different sizes in shallow coastal waters of Viet Nam and conducted a series of measurements and experiments on individual colonies. Using these empirical data, we developed a simple carbon-based model to predict the growth and maximal size of P. globosa colonies. Our model suggests that growth of a colony from 0.2 cm to 1.4 cm (the maximal size in our samples) would take 16 days. This number, however, is strongly influenced by the maximal photosynthetic rate and other physiological parameters used in the model. The model also returns a specific growth rate of 0.30 d-1 for colonial cells, comparable to satellite estimates, but lower than have been measured for unicellular P. globosa in batch culture at similar temperatures. We attribute this low growth rate to not only the model uncertainties, but factors such as self-shading and diffusive limitation of nutrient uptake.
Key wordscarbon partitioning Phaeocystis globosa colonies maximal size growth
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