Nitrogen Fixation by a Blue-Green Epiphyte on Pelagic Sargassum

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Science  15 Dec 1972:
Vol. 178, Issue 4066, pp. 1207-1209
DOI: 10.1126/science.178.4066.1207


Nitrogen fixation by Dichothrix fucicola, an epiphyte on pelagic Sargassum, was measured in May and June 1972 in the western Sargasso Sea and the Gulf Stream. This is the first report of nitrogen fixation by a heterocyst-bearing blue-green alga in the open ocean, and also the first observation of nitrogen fixation in the genus Dichothrix. Cellular carbon/nitrogen ratios suggested that the Dichothrix was nitrogen-starved. In dense aggregations of Sargassum, such as rafts or windrows, the enrichment of surface seawater with combined nitrogen from nitrogen fixation may be pronounced.