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Preliminary investigation into the stimulation of phytoplankton photophysiology and growth by whale faeces


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Smith, LV, McMinn, A, Martin, A, Nicol, S, Bowie, AR, Lannuzel, D and van der Merwe, P 2013 , 'Preliminary investigation into the stimulation of phytoplankton photophysiology and growth by whale faeces' , Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, vol. 446 , pp. 1-9 , doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2013.04.010.

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This study demonstrates that pygmy blue whale faeces stimulates the photosynthetic performance and
growth of three marine phytoplankton species, Dunaliella tertiolecta, Chaetoceros pendulus and Phaeocystis
antarctica. Photosynthetic and growth parameters were compared at four time-points over a 21 day experiment
with 6 different treatments: a positive control (F/2 culture media), a negative control (iron-deplete F/2
culture media), and four faecal treatments ranging from4375 to 220,267 μg faeces l−1. At each time point, rapid
light curves were generated using Pulse-Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry to obtain the parameters
maximum quantum yield (FV/FM), maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax), and photosynthetic efficiency
(α). Change in the relative abundance of microalgal cells and the concentration of chlorophyll a was also
determined periodically for each species. The chlorophyte D. tertiolecta and the diatomC. pendulus both exhibited
clear dose-dependent stimulation of photosynthetic and growth parameters within 7 days of incubation. There
was also a strong interaction between incubation period and treatment in C. pendulus cultures whichmay be
indicative of nutrient exhaustion following faecally-stimulated growth. The growth response observed for
P. antarctica was less variable with respect to faecal concentration. These findings are considered preliminary,
but illustrate that whales are a potentially important means of marine nutrient recycling.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Smith, LV and McMinn, A and Martin, A and Nicol, S and Bowie, AR and Lannuzel, D and van der Merwe, P
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
ISSN: 0022-0981
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.jembe.2013.04.010
Additional Information:

Copyright 2013 Elsevier

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