Laboratory culture studies of Trichodesmium isolated from the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon, Australia

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Cultures of Trichodesmium from the Northern and Southern Great Barrier Reef Lagoon (GBRL) have been established in enriched seawater and artificial seawater media. Some cultures have been maintained with active growth for over 6years. Actively growing cultures in an artificial seawater medium containing organic phosphorus (glycerophosphate) as the principal source of phosphorus have also been established. Key factors that contributed to the successful establishment of cultures were firstly, the seed samples were collected from depth, secondly, samples were thoroughly washed and thirdly, incubations were conducted under relatively low light intensities (PAR 40–50molquantam–2s–1). N2 fixation rates of the cultured Trichodesmium were found to be similar to those measured in the GBRL. Specific growth rates of the cultures during the exponential growth phase in all enriched media were in the range 0.2–0.3day–1 and growth during this phase was characterised by individual trichomes (filaments) or small aggregations of two to three trichomes. Characteristic bundle formation tended to occur following the exponential growth phase, which suggests that the bundle formation was induced by a lack of a necessary nutrient e.g. Fe. Results from some exploratory studies showed that filament-dominated cultures of Trichodesmium grew over a range of relatively low irradiances (PAR 5–120molquantam–2s–1) with the maximum growth occurring at 40–50molquantam–2s–1. These results suggest that filaments of the tested strain are well adapted for growth at depth in marine waters. Other studies showed that growth yields were dependent on salinity, with maximum growth occurring between 30 and 37psu. Also the cell yields decreased by an order of magnitude with the reduction of Fe additions from 450 to 45nM. No active growth was observed with the 4.5nM Fe addition.

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