The role of nitrogen in promoting the toxic cyanophyte Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in a subtropical water reservoir.
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1. The relative contribution of dissolved and atmospheric nitrogen to promoting dominance of the toxic nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium, Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii was examined in a subtropical water reservoir, North Pine Reservoir. 2. A combination of process studies in situ and analysis of historical water quality data suggests that nitrogen fixation was not the principal mechanism for acquiring nitrogen and unlikely to be the mechanism whereby C. raciborskii gains a competitive advantage. Ammonium was the preferred nitrogen source, followed by nitrate then nitrogen fixation. 3. Ammonium uptake rates in the euphotic zone were higher in the summer and autumn months compared with winter and spring coinciding with lower ammonium concentrations. Nitrate uptake rates did not appear to vary seasonally and were lower than those for ammonium in the summer, but similar in winter. Nitrate concentrations were higher in winter than summer and generally higher than ammonium concentrations. 4. Ammonium and nitrate uptake rates were similar at light intensities between 10% and 100% of surface light, contrasting with primary productivity which peaked between about 10 to 20% of surface light. Thus the phytoplankton population was adapted to low light conditions but remained able to utilise dissolved inorganic nitrogen over a wide range of light conditions. 5. The ammonium pool in the surface waters was relatively small compared with the phytoplankton uptake rates, and ammonium must therefore be rapidly recycled through the food web over periods of less than 1 h. Short-term depletion may result, during which time the higher concentrations of nitrate are likely to provide a supplementary supply of nitrogen. 6. The dominance of C. raciborskii in this reservoir is more likely to be due to a superior ability to scavenge and store the low concentrations of phosphate, and a superior adaptation to the low light conditions exacerbated by artificial mixing.
© 2006 Blackwell Publishing. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The definitive version is available at www.interscience.wiley.com