Accession Number:



Picophytoplankton Photoacclimation and Mixing in the Surface Oceans.

Descriptive Note:

Doctoral thesis,

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Fluctuations in light intensity due to vertical mixing in the open ocean surface layer will affect phytoplankton physiology. Conversely, indicators of phytoplankton photoacclimation will be diagnostic of mixing processes if the appropriate kinetics are known. A combination of laboratory and field experimental work, field observations, and theoretical models were used to quantify the relationship between vertical mixing and photoacclimation in determining the time and space evolution of single cell optical properties for the photosynthetic picoplankton, Prochlorococcus spp. Diel time-series observations from the Sargasso Sea reveal patterns in single-cell fluorescence distributions within Prochlorococcus spp. populations which appear to correspond to decreasing mixing rates and photoacclimation during the day, and increased mixing at night. Reciprocal light shift experiments were used to quantify the photoacclimation kinetics for Prochlorococcus spp. fluorescence. A laboratory continuous culture system was developed which could simulate the effects of mixing across a light gradient at the level of the individual cell. This system was operated at four different simulated diffusivities. Prochlorococcus mannus strain Med4 fluorescence distributions show distinct patterns in the mean and higher moments which are consistent with a simple quasi-steady turbulent diffusion-photoacclimation model. In both, daytime photoacclimation drove the development of a gradient in mean fluorescence, a decrease in variance overall, and skewing of distributions away from the boundaries. These results suggest that picophytoplankton single-cell fluorescence distributions could prove to be a useful diagnostic indicator of the mixing environment.

Subject Categories:

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine and Medical Research

Distribution Statement: