The widely distributed marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus is thought to exert an influence on the marine silicon (Si) cycle through its high cellular Si relative to organic content. There are few measurements of Si in natural populations of Synechococcus, however, and the degree to which Synechococcus from various oligotrophic field sites and depths accumulate the element is unknown. We used synchrotron x-ray fluorescence to measure Si quotas in individual Synechococcus cells collected during three cruises in the western North Atlantic Ocean in the summer and fall, focusing on cells from the surface mixed layer (SML; <10 m) and the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM). Individual cell quotas varied widely, from 1 to 4700 amol Si cell- 1, though the middle 50% of quotas ranged between 17 and 119 amol Si cell- 1. Mean station-specific quotas exhibited an even narrower range of 31–72 amol Si cell- 1. No significant differences in Si quotas were observed across cruises or among stations, and no effect of ambient silicic acid concentration on quotas was observed within the narrow range of silicic acid concentrations encountered (0.6–1.3 µM). Despite this small range in ambient silicic acid, cells collected from the SML had an average of two-fold more Si than cells collected from the DCM. Differences in Si content with depth may be related to observed differences in the dominant Synechococcus clades between the SML and DCM habitats, determined by petB gene sequencing.
Journal: Marine chemistry