Home > Explore Data & Reports > Planktonic microbes in the Gulf of Maine area


Li, W., R.A. Anderson, D. Gifford, L. Incze, J. Martin, C. Pilskaln, J. Rooney-Varga, M. Sieracki, W. Wilson, and N. Wolff. 2011. Planktonic microbes in the Gulf of Maine area. PLoS ONE, 6(6): e20981. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0020981

Data/Report Type:

Sponsored Research


In the Gulf of Maine area (GoMA), as elsewhere in the ocean, the organisms of greatest numerical abundance are microbes. Viruses in GoMA are largely cyanophages and bacteriophages, including podoviruses which lack tails. There is also evidence of Mimivirus and Chlorovirus in the metagenome. Bacteria in GoMA comprise the dominant SAR11 phylotype cluster, and other abundant phylotypes such as SAR86-like cluster, SAR116-like cluster, Roseobacter, Rhodospirillaceae, Acidomicrobidae, Flavobacteriales, Cytophaga, and unclassified Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria clusters. Bacterial epibionts of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense include Rhodobacteraceae, Flavobacteriaceae, Cytophaga spp., Sulfitobacter spp., Sphingomonas spp., and unclassified Bacteroidetes. Phototrophic prokaryotes in GoMA include cyanobacteria that contain chlorophyll (mainly Synechococcus), aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs that contain bacteriochlorophyll, and bacteria that contain proteorhodopsin. Eukaryotic microalgae in GoMA include Bacillariophyceae, Dinophyceae, Prymnesiophyceae, Prasinophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Cryptophyceae, Dictyochophyceae, Chrysophyceae, Eustigmatophyceae, Pelagophyceae, Synurophyceae, and Xanthophyceae. There are no records of Bolidophyceae, Aurearenophyceae, Raphidophyceae, and Synchromophyceae in GoMA. In total, there are records for 665 names and 229 genera of microalgae. Heterotrophic eukaryotic protists in GoMA include Dinophyceae, Alveolata, Apicomplexa, amoeboid organisms, Labrynthulida, and heterotrophic marine stramenopiles (MAST). Ciliates include Strombidium, Lohmaniella, Tontonia, Strobilidium, Strombidinopsis and the mixotrophs Laboea strobila and Myrionecta rubrum (ex Mesodinium rubra). An inventory of selected microbial groups in each of 14 physiographic regions in GoMA is made by combining information on the depth-dependent variation of cell density and the depth-dependent variation of water volume. Across the entire GoMA, an estimate for the minimum abundance of cell-based microbes is 1.7×1025 organisms. By one account, this number of microbes implies a richness of 105 to 106 taxa in the entire water volume of GoMA. Morphological diversity in microplankton is well-described but the true extent of taxonomic diversity, especially in the femtoplankton, picoplankton and nanoplankton – whether autotrophic, heterotrophic, or mixotrophic, is unknown.

Note to readers with disabilities: Some scientific publications linked from this website may not conform to Section 508 accessibility standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing this electronic content, please contact the lead/corresponding author, Primary Contact, or nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov.

Explore Similar Data/Reports


NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter or view our archives.

Follow us on Social

Listen to our Podcast

Check our our new podcast "Coastal Conversations"