Sewage outburst triggers Trichodesmium bloom and enhance N2 fixation rates

Eyal Rahav, Edo Bar-Zeev

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30 Scopus citations


The southeastern Mediterranean Sea (SEMS) is a warm and sunlit marine environment with low ambient N concentration, thus considered ideal for diazotrophy by autotrophic diazotrophs such as Trichodesmium. Despite the favorable conditions, N2 fixation rates are often low and Trichodesmium has hardly been spotted in the SEMS. This study reports on the occurrence of a Trichodesmium bloom in the SEMS which was ascribed to T. erythraeum according to DNA fingerprinting of the nifH gene. We found that this bloom (1407 ± 983 cells L-1) was triggered by an intense outburst of raw sewage that supplied high concentrations of N, P and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), which resulted in low N:P (∼12:1) and exceptionally high C:P (∼1340:1) ratios. We surmise that these conditions provided favorable conditions for Trichodesmium bloom to form via mixotrophic metabolism. As a result, a fourfold increase in N2 fixation was recorded, which contributed ∼70% to new primary production and spur a sharp increase in phytoplankton activity and biomass. The conclusions of this study point on a new paradigm for bloom-forming T. erythraeum which is tightly linked to anthropogenic sources and prompt microbial productivity in oligotrophic marine environments such as the SEMS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4367
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

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© 2017 The Author(s).


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