Widespread Iron Limitation of Phytoplankton in the South Pacific Ocean

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Science  05 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5403, pp. 840-843
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5403.840

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Diel fluorescence patterns were discovered in phytoplankton sampled over 7000 kilometers of the South Pacific Ocean that appear indicative of iron-limiting growth conditions. These patterns were rapidly lost after in situ iron enrichment and were not observed during a 15,000-kilometer transect in the Atlantic Ocean where iron concentrations are relatively high. Laboratory studies of marineSynechococcus sp. indicated that the patterns in the South Pacific are a unique manifestation of iron limitation on the fluorescence signature of state transitions. Results suggest that primary productivity is iron limited not only throughout the equatorial Pacific but also over much of the vast South Pacific gyre.

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