Scientia Marina, Vol 72, No 2 (2008)

Spatial and seasonal variations of Cyanobacteria and their nitrogen fixation rates in Sanya Bay, South China Sea

Junde Dong
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

National Experiment Station of Tropical Marine Biology

Yanying Zhang
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

National Experiment Station of Tropical Marine Biology. Graduate school of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China

Youshao Wang
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Si Zhang
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

National Experiment Station of Tropical Marine Biology

Hankui Wang
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

National Experiment Station of Tropical Marine Biology


The nitrogen fixation rates of planktonic and intertidal benthic cyanobacteria were investigated in Sanya Bay from 2003 to 2005. Trichodesmium thiebautii was the dominant species of planktonic cyanobacteria during our study. Significant seasonal and spatial variations in Trichodesmium spp. abundance were observed (P<0.01). The highest Trichodesmium concentrations occurred during intermonsoon periods and in the outer region of Sanya Bay (Outer Bay stations). At fixed station S03 the abundance of T. thiebautii ranged from 1.14×103 to 2060×103 trichomes m–2, with an annual mean of 273×103 trichomes m–2. The average nitrogen fixation rate per colony of T. thiebautii was 0.27 nmol N h-1 colony-1 and it did not show any obvious seasonal variations. Nitrogen fixation by planktonic cyanobacteria was highest in the Outer Bay stations, where the estimated amount of new nitrogen introduced by Trichodesmium contributed 0.03 to 1.63% of the total primary production and up to 11.64% of the new production. Statistical results showed that significant seasonal and spatial variations of nitrogen fixation rates were found among the intertidal communities. The main benthic nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria were identified as members of the genera Anabaena, Calothrix, Lyngbya, Nostoc and Oscillatoria. The highest nitrogen fixation rate was found in microbial mats and the lowest in reefs and rocky sediments. All the benthic communities studied presented their highest nitrogen fixation activity in summer, with an average nitrogen fixation rate of 33.31 µmol N h-1 m-2, whereas the lowest nitrogen activity was detected in winter, with an average nitrogen fixation rate of 5.66 µmol N h-1 m-2. A Pearson correlation analysis indicated that the nitrogen fixation rate of three types of intertidal communities was significantly positively correlated to seawater temperature (P<0.05), whereas only the nitrogen fixation rate of the reefs and rock communities was significantly negatively correlated to seawater salinity (P<0.05).


Trichodesmium; phytoplankton; nitrogen fixation; cyanobacteria; Sanya Bay

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