Utilizing in situ single cell quotas to proxy oceanic dissolved iron bioavailability by Yaela Shaked

In many oceanic regions, iron exerts strong control on phytoplankton growth, ecosystem structure, and carbon cycling. Yet, iron bioavailability and uptake rates by phytoplankton in the ocean are poorly constrained. Recently, Shaked et al. (2020) established a new approach for quantifying the availability of dissolved Fe (dFe) in natural seawater based on its uptake kinetics by Fe-limited cultured phytoplankton. Here, we extend this approach to in situ phytoplankton, establishing a standardized proxy for dFe bioavailability in low-Fe oceanic regions.

Bioavailability is estimated through single cell Fe uptake constants, calculated by combining measured Fe contents of individual phytoplankton cells collected from multiple regions with concurrently measured dFe concentrations, as well as modeled growth rates. We then utilize this proxy for: (a) comparing dFe bioavailability among organisms and regions; (b) calculating dFe uptake rates and residence times in low-Fe oceanic regions; and (c) constraining Fe uptake parameters of earth system models to better predict ocean productivity in response to climate change.


Shaked, Y., Twining, B. S., Tagliabue, A., & Maldonado, M. T. (2021). Probing the bioavailability of dissolved iron to marine eukaryotic phytoplankton using in situ single cell iron quotas. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, e2021GB006979. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GB006979