Selective collection of iron-rich dust particles by natural Trichodesmium colonies

Nivi Kessler, Rachel Armoza-Zvuloni, Siyuan Wang, Subhajit Basu, Peter K. Weber, Rhona K. Stuart, Yeala Shaked*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Dust is an important iron (Fe) source to the ocean, but its utilization by phytoplankton is constrained by rapid sinking and slow dissolution dust-bound iron (dust-Fe). Colonies of the globally important cyanobacterium, Trichodesmium, overcome these constraints by efficient dust capturing and active dust-Fe dissolution. In this study we examined the ability of Trichodesmium colonies to maximize their Fe supply from dust by selectively collecting Fe-rich particles. Testing for selectivity in particle collection, we supplied ~600 individual colonies, collected on multiple days from the Gulf of Aqaba, with natural dust and silica minerals that were either cleaned of or coated with Fe. Using a stereoscope, we counted the number of particles retained by each colony shortly after addition and following 24 h incubation with particles, and documented translocation of particles to the colony core. We observed a strong preference for Fe-rich particles over Fe-free particles in all tested parameters. Moreover, some colonies discarded the Fe-free particles they initially collected. The preferred collection of Fe-rich particles and disposal of Fe-free particles suggest that Trichodesmium can sense Fe and selectively choose Fe-rich dust particles. This ability assists Trichodesmium obtain Fe from dust and facilitate its growth and subsequent contribution to nutrient cycling and productivity in the ocean.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)91-103
Number of pages13
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Selective collection of iron-rich dust particles by natural Trichodesmium colonies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this