Distribution and ecology of Pseudo-nitzschia species (Bacillariophyceae) in surface waters of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica)

Abstract

The distribution of six Pseudo-nitzschia species and their relationship with environmental conditions were studied for the first time in a vast zone of the Weddell Sea (∼61–77°S, Antarctica). Both qualitative and quantitative phytoplankton samples, collected during summer 2004, were examined using light and scanning electron microscopy. Phytoplankton abundance and composition showed great variability along our study area. Diatoms were the most conspicuous phytoplankton group in the northern area while small flagellates were generally dominant in the southern stations. The genus Pseudo-nitzschia was broadly distributed and significantly contributed to total diatom densities. A marked contrast in Pseudo-nitzschia species distribution was observed in three main zones divided by the Weddell Front (WF) and the Antarctic Slope Front (ASF). P. subcurvata and P. turgiduloides were the most abundant species in the neritic Weddell Sea zone, south of the ASF, mainly near the ice-edge in shallower waters and in conditions of long photoperiod. In contrast, P. prolongatoides and P. lineola dominated north of the ASF; the first was associated with deeper and nutrient-rich waters whereas the latter showed a weak relation with environmental variables examined. Finally, P. turgidula and P. heimii were mostly observed in the Weddell–Scotia Confluence Zone in the warmest and far from ice covered waters, north of the WF. A brief morphological Pseudo-nitzschia species description is given in the Appendix, including morphometrics and pictures.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank personnel from the Instituto Antártico Argentino (IAA), the Servicio de Hidrografía Naval and the crew of “Almirante Irizar” for their support during sampling, especially to A. Ulrich, R. Codina and C. Balestrini. We extend our gratitude to P. Sarmiento from the MEB service, Museo de La Plata and to A. Kehr for his assistance with statistics. Thanks are also due to M. Solis and M. Gil from the “Chemical Oceanographic and Water Pollution” laboratory (CENPAT-CONICET), for the analysis of nutrients. Finally we want to express our gratitude to Dr. G. Fryxell and other two anonymous referees for their detailed comments and corrections. This survey was supported from the IAA, the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT) through grants PIP-5603 CONICET and PICT 25509 ANPCyT to M. Ferrario, PEI-2001, CONICET, and PICTO 6524/1108/03-ANPCyT 01–11563 to I. Schloss. G.O. Almandoz and A.I. Dogliotti work was supported by a doctoral fellowship of the CONICET, Argentina. XBT data were collected in the context of the CANOPO project of the Italian Research Program in Antarctica (PNRA, http://clima.casaccia.enea.it/canopo).

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Correspondence to Gastón O. Almandoz.

Appendix: Pseudo-nitzschia’s diagnostic characteristics

Appendix: Pseudo-nitzschia’s diagnostic characteristics

The morphology of the Pseudo-nitzschia species observed during the present study fitted well with the classical descriptions provided by Hasle (1964, 1965) and more recent reviews (Hasle and Syvertsen 1997; Ferrario and Licea 2006). Nevertheless, some of the specific morphometric data recorded here allow widening of published measurements (Table 4). As it is well known, a detailed morphological analysis using electron microscopy is essential for reliable Pseudo-nitzschia species identification. However, particularly during this study, the cell outline and its symmetry, together with the shape of the cell ends and the colony type formation were useful and consistent features allowing species differentiation during light microscope qualitative observations and enumerations.

Table 4 Morphometric summary of the Pseudo-nitzschia species observed in the Weddell Sea

Pseudo-nitzschia heimii Manguin (Fig. 7m–p)

Cells are lanceolate, 79–102 μm long and 5.2–5.7 μm wide, with round broad ends and central interspace. Striae (19–22 in 10 μm) are perforated by two rows of poroids (4–7 in 1 μm) and are more densely spaced than the fibulae (12–16 in 10 μm).

Fig. 7
figure7

Light (LM) and scanning electron (SEM) micrographs of Pseudo-nitzschia species reported in the Weddell Sea, showing the valve shape, apical and central part details (SEM) and colonies (LM). ad P. turgiduloides, eh P. lineola, il P. turgidula, mp P. heimii, qt P. prolongatoides, ux P. subcurvata

Pseudo-nitzschia lineola (Cleve) Hasle (Fig. 7e–h)

Cells are linear, 41–106 μm long and 2.1–2.7 μm wide, with acute ends and central interspace. Striae (22–28 in 10 μm) are usually uniseriate but in some specimens one or both valve ends presented striae with two rows of poroids (4–6 in 1 μm). Fibulae are less dense than striae (11–18 in 10 μm).

Pseudo-nitzschia prolongatoides (Hasle) Hasle (Fig. 7q–t)

Cells are lanceolate, expanded in the middle part, 20–85 μm long and 1.5–2.6 μm wide, with rostrate ends and central interspace. Striae (29–33 in 10 μm) with two to three rows of poroids (10–13 in 1 μm) and 16–21 fibulae in 10 μm. It was commonly observed in star-like colonies of four cells and also in typical stepped chains of two cells.

Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata (Hasle) Fryxell (Fig. 7u–x)

Cells are curved, expanded in the middle part, with one side sharp or slightly concave and the other side convex, and attenuated towards acute ends, 48–86 μm long and 1.3–1.8 μm wide. Without central interspace. Striae (43–55 in 10 μm) with one row of poroids (6–8 in 1 μm). Fibulae irregularly spaced (12–22 in 10 μm). Mostly solitary, chains of two cells were rarely observed.

Pseudo-nitzschia turgidula (Hust.) Hasle (Fig. 7i–l)

Cells are lanceolate to almost rhombic–lanceolate, 41–79 μm long and 2.3–2.5 μm wide, with broad round ends and central interspace. Striae (24–28 in 10 μm) with generally two rows of poroids (7–9 in 1 μm) but some specimens with an incomplete third row. Fibulae homogenously distributed (15–18 in 10 μm). In girdle view, cells present conspicuous truncate ends.

Pseudo-nitzschia turgiduloides (Hasle) Hasle (Fig. 7a–d)

Cells are lanceolate, expanded in the middle, 81–126 μm long and 2–2.9 μm wide, with broad round ends and central interspace. Striae (18–24 in 10 μm) with one or two rows of poroids (7–10 in 1 μm). Fibulae homogenously distributed (10–14 in 10 μm). In girdle view, cells with truncate ends.

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Almandoz, G.O., Ferreyra, G.A., Schloss, I.R. et al. Distribution and ecology of Pseudo-nitzschia species (Bacillariophyceae) in surface waters of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Polar Biol 31, 429–442 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-007-0369-9

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Keywords

  • Antarctica
  • Diatoms
  • Phytoplankton distribution
  • Pseudo-nitzschia
  • Weddell Sea