Boyd, PW and Hurd, CL, Ocean Nutrients, Geophysical Monograph Series: Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Processes, American Geophysical Union, C Le Quere & S Saltzman (ed), Washington, DC, pp. 139-160. ISBN 9780875904771 (2009) [Research Book Chapter]
Nutrients provide the chemical life-support system for phytoplankton in the ocean. Together with the carbon fixed during photosynthesis, nutrients provide the other elements, such as N and P, needed to synthesize macromolecules to build cellular constituents such as ribosomes. The makeup of these various biochemicals, such as proteins, pigments, and nucleic acids, together determine the elemental stoichiometry of an individual phytoplankton cell. The stoichiometry of different phytoplankton species or groups will vary depending on the proportions of distinct cellular machinery, such as for growth or resource acquisition, they require for their life strategies. The uptake of nutrients by phytoplankton helps to set the primary productivity, and drives the biological pump, of the global ocean. In the case of nitrogen, the supply of nutrients is categorized as either new or regenerated. The supply of new nitrogen, such as nitrate upwelled from the oceans' interior or biological nitrogen fixation, is equal to the vertical export of particular organic matter from the upper ocean on a timescale of years. Nutrients such as silica can also play a structural role in some phytoplankton groups, such as diatoms, where they are used to synthesize a siliceous frustule that offers some mechanical protection from grazers. In this chapter, we also explore nutrient uptake kinetics, patterns in nutrient distributions in space and time, the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen, the atmospheric supply of nutrients, departures from the Redfield ratio, and whether nutrient distributions and cycling will be altered in the future. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.