Changes in diazotrophic community structure associated with Kuroshio succession in the northern South China Sea

Zhang, Han; Mai, Guangming; Luo, Weicheng; Chen, Meng; Duan, Ran; Shi, Tuo

Kuroshio intrusion (KI) is a key process that transports water from the western Pacific Ocean to the northern South China Sea (nSCS), where KI-induced surface water mixing often causes variations in microbial assemblages. Yet, how interannual KIs affect the biogeography of diazotrophs and associated environmental factors remains poorly characterized. Here, by quantifying the degree of KIs in 2 consecutive years, coupled with monitoring the diversity and distribution of nitrogenase-encoding nifH phylotypes with quantitative PCR and high-throughput sequencing, we show that changes in the diazotrophic community structure in the nSCS are highly correlated with KI-induced variations in a range of physicochemical parameters. Specifically, the filamentous cyanobacteria in the genus Trichodesmium were more abundant at stations strongly affected by KI and thereby with a deeper mixed layer and higher surface salinity and temperature; the unicellular Ninline-formula2-fixing cyanobacteria in group B (UCYN-B) were more abundant at stations least affected by KI and correlated with nutrient availability, whereas UCYN-C and the inline-formulaγ-proteobacteria were prevalent at stations moderately affected by KI. The neutral community model further demonstrated that dominant diazotrophic subcommunities were significantly affected by environmental factors in 2017 when KI was stronger compared to 2018 when KI retreated. Our analyses provide insightful evidence for the role of KI in shaping the diazotrophic community structure primarily as a stochastic process, implying a potential region-scale redistribution of diazotrophs and nitrogen budget, given that KIs are projected to intensify in a future warming ocean.

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Zhang, Han / Mai, Guangming / Luo, Weicheng / et al: Changes in diazotrophic community structure associated with Kuroshio succession in the northern South China Sea. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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