Increased frequency of dividing cells of a phototrophic species of Cryptophyceae at a frontal structure off the Antarctic Peninsula

Maria Paola Mura, Susana Agustí*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The hypothesis that enhanced phytoplankton growth explained the increase in phytoplankton biomass observed at a frontal structure off the Antarctic Peninsula during the summer of 1993 was examined by analysing the phytoplankton cells undergoing mitosis. The frequency of dividing cells (FDC) of an unidentified phototrophic species of Cryptophyceae, which dominated phytoplankton biomass at the front, varied between 1.2 and 31.6%, with higher percentages associated with the frontal structure. FDC values increased as phytoplankton biomass increased, suggesting that active growth, rather than passive accumulation, was responsible for the enhanced phytoplankton biomass observed. The low temperatures (mean ± SE = 1.11 ± 0.52°C) that characterized the Antarctic waters sampled imposed an upper limit to the maximum FDC reached by the Cryptophyceae, but the relationship between FDC and temperature suggests a clear response of the maximal growth rate of this species to small changes in temperature. The stabilization of the water column, resulting in higher light availability and heating of the surface water in this frontal area, appeared to promote the growth of the phototrophic species of Cryptophyceae and emphasizes the importance of mesoscale processes as determinants of phytoplankton growth dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2357-2367
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant ANT93-0490 from CICYT (Spanish Commission of Science and Technology). M.P.M. was supported by a grant from CE. We thank M.Garcia for the CTD data, and the BIOANTAR-93 participants and crew for help during sampling. We also thank M.P.Satta for elaboration of the data. We are especially grateful to C.M.Duarte for useful comments on the manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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