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Science. 2006 Jun 9;312(5779):1517-20.

Transatlantic abundance of the N2-fixing colonial cyanobacterium Trichodesmium.

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  • 1Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543-1541, USA.


Colonial diazotrophic cyanobacteria of the genus Trichodesmium are thought to play a significant role in the input of new nitrogen to upper layers of the tropical and subtropical oceanic ecosystems that cover nearly half of Earth's surface. Here we describe results of a transatlantic survey in which a noninvasive underwater digital microscope (the video plankton recorder), was towed across the North Atlantic at 6 meters per second while undulating between the surface and 130 meters. Colony abundance had a basin-scale trend, a clear association with anticyclonic eddies, and was not affected by hurricane-forced mixing. Subsurface abundance was higher than previously reported, which has important implications for the global ocean nitrogen cycle.

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