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Adaptations of microphytobenthos assemblages to sediment type and tidal position

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

B. Jesus, V. Brotas, L. Ribeiro, C. R. Mendes, P. Cartaxana, D. M. Paterson

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Abstract

Tagus intertidal microphytobenthos (MPB) assemblages were characterized over a wide range of sediment type and tidal height and the possible effects of these variables on MPB spatial distribution and photo-adaptation mechanisms were investigated. Two transects with six different sediment type and different tidal height sites were sampled once every two months from 2002 to 2004. Upper shore and sandy sites showed higher chlorophyll a (chl a) content, with sandy sediments showing a biomass peak in late winter-early spring, and muddy sites showing no obvious seasonal pattern. Stepwise multiple linear regressions showed that only SiO2, tidal height and sediment particle size <63 mu m were significant variables (p <0.05), explaining 50% of MPB biomass spatial-temporal variability. However, when data were separated by transect, only tidal height remained significant at both transects. Sandier sediments exhibited higher zeaxanthin/chl a and lower fucoxanthin/chl a ratios characteristic of a mixed cyanobacteria/diatom assemblages, showing an alternate seasonality with cyanobacteria increasing in summer and diatoms dominating in spring. Diatom biofilms showed contrasting features depending on the sediment type. Epipsammic diatoms were small with an average length of around 10 mu m, while epipelic diatoms showed a wider size range with size distribution peaks at 10-15 mu m, 25-35 mu m and > 60 mu m. Epipelic biofilms showed evidence of being low light-acclimated (high fucoxanthin/chl a) and of photo-regulating by vertical migration movements (presence of endogenous vertical rhythms and lower diatoxanthin/diadinoxanthin). Epipsammic biofilms showed higher diatoxanthin/diadinoxanthin ratios and no vertical migration rhythms. Thus, the two diatom biofilm types had distinct strategies to photo-regulate: epipelic diatoms using vertical migration to position themselves at the sediment depth of optimum light conditions, and epipsammic diatoms using the xanthophyll cycle to photo-regulate. Further studies comparing epipsammic and epipelic assemblages are necessary to better understand MPB photo-regulation mechanisms. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1624-1634
Number of pages11
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Volume29
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2009

    Research areas

  • Microphytobenthos, Migrations, PAM fluorescence, Photosynthetic pigments, Sediment distribution, Spatial variations, Portugal, Tagus estuary, CHLOROPHYLL FLUORESCENCE, INTERTIDAL MICROPHYTOBENTHOS, PHOTOSYNTHETIC ACTIVITY, VERTICAL MIGRATION, BENTHIC MICROALGAE, TAGUS ESTUARY, BIOMASS, LIGHT, DIATOMS, DENITRIFICATION

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