Phytoplankton Division Rates in Light-Limited Environments: Two Adaptations

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Science  26 Feb 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4536, pp. 1123-1125
DOI: 10.1126/science.215.4536.1123


Red tide-forming dinoflagellates maximize cell numbers during periods of low light intensities in two ways. For short-term exposures to suboptimal light intensities such as might occur during recirculation in frontal convergences, cell division rates can be maintained at the expense of stored carbon for up to two generation times. During longer periods, corresponding to subsurface transport below a pycnocline, cell division rates eventually decrease as a portion of the fixed carbon is diverted to replenishing stored carbon. As a result, maximum rates of cell division can be resumed rapidly upon advection into surface waters where light intensities are optimal for growth.