Dissolved Organic Matter Uptake by Trichodesmium in the Southwest Pacific

Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 24;7:41315. doi: 10.1038/srep41315.


The globally distributed diazotroph Trichodesmium contributes importantly to nitrogen inputs in the oligotrophic oceans. Sites of dissolved organic matter (DOM) accumulation could promote the mixotrophic nutrition of Trichodesmium when inorganic nutrients are scarce. Nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS) analyses of individual trichomes sampled in the South Pacific Ocean, showed significant 13C-enrichments after incubation with either 13C-labeled carbohydrates or amino acids. These results suggest that DOM could be directly taken up by Trichodesmium or primarily consumed by heterotrophic epibiont bacteria that ultimately transfer reduced DOM compounds to their host trichomes. Although the addition of carbohydrates or amino acids did not significantly affect bulk N2 fixation rates, N2 fixation was enhanced by amino acids in individual colonies of Trichodesmium. We discuss the ecological advantages of DOM use by Trichodesmium as an alternative to autotrophic nutrition in oligotrophic open ocean waters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Solubility
  • Trichodesmium / metabolism*


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Organic Chemicals