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Resource colimitation drives competition between phytoplankton and bacteria in the Southern Ocean


Ratnarajah, L and Blain, S and Boyd, PW and Fourquez, M and Obernosterer, I and Tagliabue, A, Resource colimitation drives competition between phytoplankton and bacteria in the Southern Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, 48, (1) pp. 1-11. ISSN 0094-8276 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1029/2020GL088369


Across the Southern Ocean, phytoplankton growth is governed by iron and light, while bacterial growth is regulated by iron and labile dissolved organic carbon (LDOC). We use a mechanistic model to examine how competition for iron between phytoplankton and bacteria responds to changes in iron, light, and LDOC. Consistent with experimental evidence, increasing iron and light encourages phytoplankton dominance, while increasing LDOC and decreasing light favors bacterial dominance. Under elevated LDOC, bacteria can outcompete phytoplankton for iron, most easily under lower iron. Simulations reveal that bacteria are major iron consumers and suggest that luxury storage plays a key role in competitive iron uptake. Under seasonal conditions typical of the Southern Ocean, sources of LDOC besides phytoplankton exudation modulate the strength of competitive interactions. Continued investigations on the competitive fitness of bacteria in driving changes in primary production in iron-limited systems will be invaluable in refining these results.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:phytoplankton, Southern Ocean, iron
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Measurement and assessment of marine water quality and condition
UTAS Author:Boyd, PW (Professor Philip Boyd)
ID Code:152042
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-08-10
Last Modified:2022-08-24

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