Polish Polar Research (Dec 2016)

Freshwater mineral nitrogen and essential elements in autotrophs in James Ross Island, West Antarctica

  • Coufalík Pavel,
  • Prochazková Petra,
  • Zvěřina Ondřej,
  • Trnková Kateřina,
  • Skácelová Kateřina,
  • Nývlt Daniel,
  • Komárek Josef

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 37, no. 4
pp. 477 – 491


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The lakes and watercourses are habitats for various communities of cyanobacteria and algae, which are among the few primary producers in Antarctica. The amount of nutrients in the mineral-poor Antarctic environment is a limiting factor for the growth of freshwater autotrophs in most cases. In this study, the main aim was to assess the availability of mineral nitrogen for microorganisms in cyanobacterial mats in James Ross Island. The nitrate and ammonium ions in water environment were determined as well as the contents of major elements (C, N, P, S, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Al, Fe, Mn) in cyanobacterial mats. The molar ratios of C:N, C:P and N:P in mats were in focus. The growth of freshwater autotrophs seems not to be limited by the level of nitrogen, according to the content of available mineral nitrogen in water and the biogeochemical stoichiometry of C:N:P. The source of nutrients in the Ulu Peninsula is not obvious. The nitrogen fixation could enhance the nitrogen content in mats, which was observed in some samples containing the Nostoc sp.