The RNA/DNA ratio is used as indicator of growth in various marine organisms and to assess physiological status at species or community level. To evaluate the utility of the RNA/DNA ratio as a proxy of phytoplankton primary production, the relationships between phytoplankton RNA/DNA, taxon-specific diatom and dinoflagellate 18S rRNA/rDNA ratios and autotrophic phytoplankton biomass were investigated as a first step. Significant correlations between all phytoplankton ratios and total phytoplankton, diatom and dinoflagellate biomass as chlorophyll a (chl a) and carbon content were found. Diatoms showed higher correlation than dinoflagellates (18S rRNA/rDNA vs. chl a, rs =0.74 and 0.64, P <0.001; 18S rRNA/rDNA vs. carbon, rs =0.66 and 0.53, P <0.001, respectively), because they represented the most abundant and frequent group within sampled assemblages. Further, phytoplankton biomass production is known to be linked to protein biosynthesis and significant relationships between RNA/DNA ratios and protein content of phytoplankton assemblage were found (rs =0.62 and 0.52, P <0.001 for diatom and dinoflagellates, respectively). As taxon-specific RNA/DNA ratios were correlated with biomass and protein content, our results can be regarded as the first step toward further studies on the applicability of RNA/DNA ratios as indicators of growth rate and primary production in phytoplankton assemblages.

Phytoplankton RNA/DNA and 18S rRNA/rDNA ratios in a coastal marine ecosystem

SILVIA CASABIANCA
Investigation
;
SAMUELA CAPELLACCI
Formal Analysis
;
FABIO RICCI
Formal Analysis
;
ANTONELLA PENNA
Writing – Review & Editing
2021

Abstract

The RNA/DNA ratio is used as indicator of growth in various marine organisms and to assess physiological status at species or community level. To evaluate the utility of the RNA/DNA ratio as a proxy of phytoplankton primary production, the relationships between phytoplankton RNA/DNA, taxon-specific diatom and dinoflagellate 18S rRNA/rDNA ratios and autotrophic phytoplankton biomass were investigated as a first step. Significant correlations between all phytoplankton ratios and total phytoplankton, diatom and dinoflagellate biomass as chlorophyll a (chl a) and carbon content were found. Diatoms showed higher correlation than dinoflagellates (18S rRNA/rDNA vs. chl a, rs =0.74 and 0.64, P <0.001; 18S rRNA/rDNA vs. carbon, rs =0.66 and 0.53, P <0.001, respectively), because they represented the most abundant and frequent group within sampled assemblages. Further, phytoplankton biomass production is known to be linked to protein biosynthesis and significant relationships between RNA/DNA ratios and protein content of phytoplankton assemblage were found (rs =0.62 and 0.52, P <0.001 for diatom and dinoflagellates, respectively). As taxon-specific RNA/DNA ratios were correlated with biomass and protein content, our results can be regarded as the first step toward further studies on the applicability of RNA/DNA ratios as indicators of growth rate and primary production in phytoplankton assemblages.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11576/2694872
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