Dissolved Organic Phosphorus Production during Simulated Phytoplankton Blooms in a Coastal Upwelling System. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) is increasingly recognized as an important phosphorus source to marine primary producers. Despite its importance, the production rate and fate of DOP is poorly understood. In this study, patterns of DOP production were evaluated by tracking the evolution of DOP during simulated phytoplankton blooms initiated with nutrient amended surface waters, relative to controls, from the Oregon (USA) coastal upwelling system. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) additions were used to decouple DOP production and hydrolysis by inducing or repressing, respectively, community alkaline phosphatase activity. In order to examine the progression of nutrient uptake and DOP production under upwelling versus relaxation conditions, two experiments were initiated with waters collected during upwelling events, and two with waters collected during relaxation events. Maximum [under (+P) conditions] and minimum [under (+N) conditions] DOP production rates were calculated and applied to in situ DOP levels to evaluate which end-member rate most closely approximates the in situ DOP production rate at the four study sites in this coastal system. Increases in DOP concentration occurred by day-5 in control treatments in all experiments. N treatments displayed increased chlorophyll a, increased alkaline phosphatase activity, and yielded lower net DOP production rates relative to controls, suggesting that DOP levels were depressed as a consequence of increased hydrolysis of bioavailable DOP substrates. Phosphorus additions resulted in a significant net production of DOP at all stations, but no increase in chlorophyll a relative to control treatments. The contrasting patterns in DOP production between treatments suggests that changes in the ambient dissolved inorganic nitrogen:dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIN:DIP) ratio could exert profound control over DOP production rates in this system. Patterns of DOP production across the different experiments also suggest that bathymetry-driven differences in water residence times can influence DOP cycling. Taken together, these factors may impact the potential export of DOP to offshore ecosystems.

publication date

  • 2012