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Impact of nutrient availability on the trophic strategies of the planktonic protist communities in a disturbed Mediterranean coastal lagoon

Abstract

The impact of changes in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability on the trophic strategies of planktonic protists was evaluated in a disturbed Mediterranean lagoon (Biguglia lagoon, France) using short-term bioassays. Natural communities were collected in three periods, i.e., autumn, spring and summer, to address the influence of the different environmental conditions. The responses of autotrophic plankton communities to experimentally induced N and/or P limitations were assessed as changes in chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations and in the abundances of potentially mixotrophic protists taxa. We observed blooms (> 105 cells l−1) of nanoflagellates in autumn, and of phycocyanin-rich picocyanobacteria in summer. Communities showed a co-limitation by N and P at the three sampling periods, despite high N:P ratios in autumn and spring. The high abundances of potentially mixotrophic dinoflagellates during these periods suggest the involvement of alternative trophic pathways for their maintenance in the lagoon. After bioassay incubations using different nutrient enrichment treatments, we often observed reduced abundances of mixotrophic protists containing Chl a with a concomitant increased abundance of protists without Chl a. This indicates a loss of chloroplasts and photoautotrophic abilities in protists cells, possibly reflecting a shift towards heterotrophy that could be sustained by phagotrophy.

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Acknowledgements

Amandine Leruste was supported in 2018 by a Postdoctoral Fellowship of the University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli (SPE CNRS 6134 Laboratory and UMS Stella Mare) and the Collectivity of Corsica, and from 2013 to 2016 by a PhD Fellowship of the Doctoral School at the University of Montpellier. This work has been financed by Biguglia Lagoon Nature Reserve, the Collectivity of Corsica and the University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli, the authors are grateful for their cooperation. This work was (co)funded by the Labex DRIIHM, French Programme “Investissements d’Avenir” (ANR-11-LABX-0010) which is managed by the ANR. We thank the Ifremer Station of Bastia and the UMS Stella Mare for technical support and help during the experiments. Thanks are extended to everyone who participated in the experiments. The authors also thank the Microbex platform of the MARBEC UMR that provided microscopy and imaging equipment, and particularly Cécile Roques that provided technical support for microscopic analyses. All authors have approved the final article.

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Correspondence to Vanina Pasqualini.

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Leruste, A., Garrido, M., Malet, N. et al. Impact of nutrient availability on the trophic strategies of the planktonic protist communities in a disturbed Mediterranean coastal lagoon. Hydrobiologia 848, 1101–1119 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-021-04517-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-021-04517-w

Keywords

  • Growth rate
  • Dinoflagellates
  • Nutrient limitation
  • Mixotrophy