Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 9, pp 1067–1080 | Cite as

Iron, silicate, and light co-limitation of three Southern Ocean diatom species

  • L. J. HoffmannEmail author
  • I. Peeken
  • K. Lochte
Original Paper


The effect of combined iron, silicate, and light co-limitation was investigated in the three diatom species Actinocyclus sp. Ehrenberg, Chaetoceros dichaeta Ehrenberg, and Chaetoceros debilis Cleve, isolated from the Southern Ocean (SO). Growth of all species was co-limited by iron and silicate, reflected in a significant increase in the number of cell divisions compared to the control. Lowest relative Si uptake and drastic frustule malformation was found under iron and silicate co-limitation in C. dichaeta, while Si limitation in general caused cell elongation in both Chaetoceros species. Higher light intensities similar to SO surface conditions showed a negative impact on growth of C. dichaeta and Actinocyclus sp. and no effect on C. debilis. This is in contrast to the assumed light limitation of SO diatoms due to deep wind driven mixing. Our results suggest that growth and species composition of Southern Ocean diatoms is influenced by a sensitive interaction of the abiotic factors, iron, silicate, and light.


Phytoplankton Iron Limitation Diatom Growth High Silicate Polar Frontal Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Jesco Peschutter and Wiebke Schmidt for their help in cell counting, as well as Eike Breitbarth and Peter Croot for helpful comments and discussions. We also would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive critics, which have remarkably improved the clarity of the manuscript. This research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) grant PE_565_5.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz Institute of Marine Science at the University of KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany

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