, Volume 549, Issue 1, pp 297–303 | Cite as

Relative Uptake of Urea and Ammonium by Dinoflagellates or Cyanobacteria in Shrimp Mesocosms

  • Michele A. BurfordEmail author
Short Research Note


The relative role of the organic nitrogen source, urea, versus ammonium as a nitrogen source for two species of dinoflagellates was compared with one species of cyanobacteria. Experiments were conducted opportunistically in nutrient-rich marine water during blooms of 34either cyanobacteria or dinoflagellates in outdoor mesocosms. These replicate mesocosms, which were stocked with shrimp fed high-protein formulated feeds, contained high biomasses of phytoplankton (mean chlorophyll a concentrations, 439.2–811.2 μg l−1). 15N-urea and ammonium uptake rates for dinoflagellate-dominated blooms (Gymnodinium pulchellum-complex (Larsen), Karlodinium micrum (Larsen) (Dinophyceae)) were compared with blooms of the cyanobacterium, Romeria sp. (Cyanophyceae) in mesocosms with mean urea and ammonium concentrations ranging from 2.32 to 3.24 μM, and 7.39 to 64.85 μM, respectively. Urea uptake rates were significantly (p < 0.005) lower than ammonium uptake rates irrespective of which algal species dominated the bloom. Additionally urea uptake rates were not significantly higher in G. pulchellum-complex or K. micrum-dominated blooms than in Romeria sp. blooms. These results suggest that G pulchellum complex and K. micrum may not be gaining a competitive advantage in waters high in dissolved organic matter simply by preferentially utilizing urea. The periodic dominance of these species in highly organic environments, such as shrimp ponds, is likely to have a more complex explanation.


organic nitrogen urea algal blooms dinoflagellates cyanobacteria 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Riverine Landscapes, Faculty of Environmental ScienceGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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