Regression modeling of the North East Atlantic Spring Bloom suggests previously unrecognized biological roles for V and Mo

Nick J. Klein
A. J. Beck
D. A. Hutchins
Sanudo-Wilhelmy D. A.


In order to identify the biogeochemical parameters controlling pCO(2), total chlorophyll a, and dimethyl sulfide (DMS) concentrations during the North East Atlantic Spring Bloom (NASB), we used previously unpublished particulate and dissolved elemental concentrations to construct several linear regression models; first by hypothesis testing, and then with exhaustive stepwise linear regression followed by leave-one-out cross-validation. The field data was obtained along a latitudinal transect from the Azores Islands to the North Atlantic, and best-fit models (determined by lowest predictive error) of up to three variables are presented. Total chlorophyll a is predicted best by biomass (POC, PON) parameters and by pigments characteristic of picophytoplankton for the southern section of the sampling transect (from the Azores to the Rockhall-Hatton Plateau) and coccolithophores in the northern portion (from the Rockhall-Hatton Plateau to the Denmark Strait). Both the pCO(2) and DMS models included variables traditionally associated with the development of the NASB such as mixed layer depth and with Fe, Si, and P-deplete conditions (dissolved Fe, dissolved and biogenic silica, dissolved PO43-). However, the regressions for pCO(2) and DMS also include intracellular V and Mo concentrations, respectively. Mo is involved in DMS production as a cofactor in dimethylsulfoxide reductase. No significant biological role for V has yet been determined, although intracellular V is significantly correlated (p-value <0.05) with biogenic silica (R-2 = 0.72) and total chlorophyll a (R-2 = 0.49) while the same is not true for its biogeochemical analogue Mo, suggesting active uptake of V by phytoplankton. Our statistical analysis suggests these two lesser studied metals may play more important roles in bloom dynamics than previously thought, and highlights a need for studies focused on determining their potential biological requirements and cell quotas.