To trace the flow of nitrogen through the foraminifera-symbiont system, juvenile specimens of the symbiont-beating planktonic foraminifera, Orbulina universa were collected by SCUBA divers off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, California, and grown in filtered seawater solutions spiked with [sup.15]N-labeled nitrate. Our work isolated each pathway of this symbiotic system to determine the amount of nitrogen translocated to the foraminifera from its endosymbionts and its captured diet. Our model results show that when the nitrate uptake by the symbionts is at a maximum, between 50 and 57% of the foraminiferal nitrogen was translocated from the symbionts and the remainder was derived from the captured diet. In nitrate-deficient environments, when the symbiont nitrate uptake was at a minimum, ~90-100% of the nitrogen was transferred to the foraminifer by the symbionts from the recycled nitrogen ([MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) pool. In nitrate-deficient conditions, the primary role of the captured diet may be to provide the system with phosphorous. Highly efficient nutrient use is particularly important to the foraminifera-symbiont system, especially when nutrient concentrations are low. The results indicate a limited correlation between the isotopic composition of the [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the culture solutions and the [Delta][sup.15]N values of the foraminifera. However, the [Delta][sup.15]N values of the foraminifera much more strongly reflect the [Delta][sup.15]N values of the [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] recycled through the system. It appears that recycled nitrogen ([MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is a more important source of nitrogen to the symbionts and the foraminifera than nitrate; therefore, the [Delta][sup.15]N values of the foraminifera may not reflect the isotopic composition of the surface-water nutrients. Understanding the nitrogen flow within modern foraminifera-symbiont associations is also important to ancient marine systems, because symbiont-bearing foraminifera are ubiquitous in the fossil record. This study shows that analysis of individual, symbiont-bearing foraminifera species is a necessary first step toward the development of more reliable use of nitrogen isotopes for paleoceanographic reconstructions.
Source Citation:Uhle, Maria E., Stephen A. Macko, Howard J. Spero, David W. Lea, William F. Ruddiman, and Michael H. Engel. "The fate of nitrogen in the Orbulina universa foraminifera-symbiont system determined by nitrogen isotope analyses of shell-bound organic matter." Limnology and Oceanography 44.8 (Dec 1999): 1968. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 12 Sept. 2009
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