Growth of prochlorococcus, a photosynthetic prokaryote, in the equatorial pacific ocean. Academic Article uri icon


  • The cell cycle of Prochlorococcus, a prokaryote that accounts for a sizable fraction of the photosynthetic biomass in the eastern equatorial Pacific, progressed in phase with the daily light cycle. DNA replication occurred in the afternoon and cell division occurred at night. Growth rates were maximal (about one doubling per day) at 30 meters and decreased toward the surface and the bottom of the ocean. Estimated Prochlorococcus production varied between 174 and 498 milligrams of carbon per square meter per day and accounted for 5 to 19 percent of total gross primary production at the equator. Because Prochlorococcus multiplies close to its maximum possible rate, it is probably not severely nutrient-limited in this region of the oceans.

publication date

  • June 9, 1995