During the US JGOFS process studies in the Arabian Sea (1995), secondary fluorescence maxima (SFM) were observed frequently at the oxic-anoxic interface at the extreme base of the euphotic zone. These secondary peaks were most prominent during the early NE monsoon in the central oligotrophic portion of the Arabian Sea, although they were spatially and temporally variable. Based on high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and flow cytometry analyses, SFM were determined to be populated almost exclusively by the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus spp. While SFM were about half the magnitude of primary fluorescence peaks, chlorophyll a biomass was typically an order of magnitude less than at the primary maxima (although total chlorophyll (a + b) differed only by a factor of two). Photosynthesis versus irradiance response curves revealed an efficient population adapted to extremely low light (similar to 0.02-0.05% surface irradiance) largely through increased light absorption capabilities. A theoretical spectral irradiance absorption efficiency model based on available spectral irradiance, individual cell properties, and bulk particulate spectral absorption also supports a well-adapted low-light population. Deck-incubated C-14 uptake as well as dilution growth experiments revealed instantaneous growth rates on the order of mu = 0.01 d(-1). However, additional in situ observations suggest SFM populations may be more dynamic than the growth rates estimates from shipboard bottle incubations predict. We advance four hypotheses for the regulation of SFM populations including: (1) reduced loss rates, (2) discontinuous environmental conditions. (3) enhanced sub-oxic growth, and (4) physical mechanisms. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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