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Potential Polyunsaturated Aldehydes in the Strait of Gibraltar under Two Tidal Regimes

Diatoms, a major component of the large-sized phytoplankton, are able to produce and release polyunsaturated aldehydes after cell disruption (potential PUAs or pPUA). These organisms are dominant in the large phytoplankton fraction (>10 μm) in the Strait of Gibraltar, the only connection between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In this area, the hydrodynamics exerts a strong control on the composition and physiological state of the phytoplankton. This environment offers a great opportunity to analyze and compare the little known distribution of larger sized PUA producers in nature and, moreover, to study how environmental variables could affect the ranges and potential distribution of these compounds. Our results showed that, at both tidal regimes, diatoms in the Strait of Gibraltar are able to produce three aldehydes: Heptadienal, Octadienal, and Decadienal, with a significant dominance of Decadienal producers. The PUA released by mechanical cell disruption of large-sized collected cells (pPUA) ranged from 0.01 to 12.3 pmol from cells in 1L, and from 0.1 to 9.8 fmol cell-1. Tidal regime affected the abundance, distribution and the level of physiological stress of diatoms in the Strait. During Spring tides, diatoms were more abundant, usually grouped nearer the coastal basin and showed less physiological stress than during Neap tides. Our results suggest a significant general increase in the pPUA productivity with increasing physiological stress for the cell also significantly associated to low nitrate availability.