, Volume 24, Issue 7–8, pp 1442–1449 | Cite as

Variation of phytoplankton community structure from the Pearl River estuary to South China Sea

  • Zhao-Yu Jiang
  • You-Shao WangEmail author
  • Hao Cheng
  • Cui-Ci Sun
  • Mei-Lin Wu


The Pearl River is located in the northern part of South China Sea. The environment of the Pearl River estuary (PRE) is significantly impacted by nutrients from anthropogenic activities. Along the anthropogenic pollution gradient from the PRE to South China Sea, the phylogenetic diversity and biomass of phytoplankton was examined in relation to physic-chemical variables. The richness of rbcL gene was higher in the open sea than the estuary, while the concentration of chlorophyll a (Chl a) was higher in the estuary than in the open sea. The cluster analysis of the sequences data resulted in seven phytoplankton community types and the dominant species of phytoplankton changed from Cryptophytes and Diatoms to Prymnesiophytes and Diatoms along the gradient. The community structure of phytoplankton was shaped by nutrients and salinity. The phytoplankton biomass was significantly positively affected by phosphorus, nitrite and ammonium (P < 0.01) but negatively by salinity (P < 0.05); the phytoplankton diversity was highly positively affected by salinity (P < 0.05) but negatively by silicate and nitrate (P < 0.01; P < 0.05, respectively). Anthropogenic activities played a critical role in the phytoplankton distribution and biomass of the study area. Further research is necessary to reveal the influence mechanism of environmental factors on the phytoplankton.


South China Sea The Pearl River estuary Phytoplankton community Large subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (rbcL) gene Anthropogenic pollution gradient 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41430966 and 41176101), the Projects of Guangzhou Science and Technology (No. 15020024), the projects of knowledge innovation program of State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography (No. LTOZZ1402), the key projects in the National Science & Technology Pillar Program in the Eleventh Five-year Plan Period (No. 2012BAC07B0402) and the projects of knowledge innovation program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KSCX2-SW-132).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhao-Yu Jiang
    • 1
  • You-Shao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hao Cheng
    • 1
  • Cui-Ci Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mei-Lin Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Daya Bay Marine Biology Research StationChinese Academy of SciencesShenzhenChina

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