Biological nitrogen fixation (acetylene reduction) associated with blue-green algal communities in the Mgeni estuary mangrove swamp.
Nitrogen fixation of blue-green algae associated with Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. pneumatophores and wet and dry surface sediments were investigated in the Mgeni Estuary mangrove swamp by means of the acetylene reduction technique. Optimum partial pressures of acetylene ranged from 0,15 to 0,2 atm. for the different habitats. A lag phase of 3 h was observed in all habitats, followed by a period of linear ethylene production of 42 h for the pneumatophores and 72 h for the wet and dry mat areas. An assay period of 24 h was employed in all habitats. Laboratory studies revealed percentage moisture and temperature to be the prime factors influencing ARA (acetylene reduction activity) in all habitats and rates were highest under submerged conditions and at 22˚C. Short-term variations in ARA and salinity in the wet and dry mat areas, measured at 6 day intervals, were also related to percentage moisture. High concentrations of inorganic nitrogen (between 1 and 5 mg 1-1) significantly depressed ARA in all habitats. Increases in ARA occurred with increase in light intensity up to 40 μE m -2 s-1, with negligible dark rates being recorded in the wet and dry mat areas. Significant dark rates of ARA and stimulation of ARA by sucrose in association with the pneumatophores indicated that bacteria may also be contributing to ARA in this habitat. No organic carbon stimulation was noted in the other sites. Salinity had little effect on ARA over the range generally experienced in each habitat. Field studies revealed a marked seasonal variation in ARA, with summer maxima of 78, 678 and 341 nmol C2H4 cm-2 24 h-1 associated with the pneumatophore, wet and dry mat areas respectively. This coincided with maximum nitrogen-fixing blue-green algal numbers, temperature, light intensity and day length. No seasonal variations in organic carbon, inorganic nitrogen, salinity, percentage moisture or bacterial numbers were apparent. Rates of bacterial ARA associated with decomposing litter of A. marina were highest under exposed conditions and reached a maximum of 25 935 nmol C2H4 g dry wt -1 24 h -1 after 3 weeks. Maximum rates of ARA under submerged conditions of 5394 nmol C2H4 g dry wt -1 24 h -1were reached after 4 weeks of decomposition. An increase in percentage nitrogen occurred during decomposition and was greatest under submerged conditions. Rates of decomposition were highest under exposed conditions. It was estimated that nitrogen fixation by blue-green algal communities supplies 23,8% of the annual nitrogen requirements of the mangrove swamp.
- Masters Degrees (Botany)