Many diatom species have the ability to form benthic resting stages, but the importance of these stages as a supply for planktonic blooms is uncertain. A mesocosm study was carried out in December 2005 to January 2006 in Mangalore, India. Mesocosms were inoculated with various combinations of benthic and/or planktonic cells, sampled from the coastal SE Arabian Sea, and the development of the planktonic community was followed. Diatoms dominated the phytoplankton community in all mesocosms, irrespective of inoculum. The most significant differences among inoculum types were altered species composition, and the timings of the maximum cell abundances, which lagged behind in the sediment mesocosms. Populations of Thalassiosira were initiated by both plankton and benthic propagules. Taxa known from temperate coastal areas to seed bloom by benthic propagules, such as Chaetoceros and Skeletonema, were predominantly seeded by planktonic cells in this experiment; this implies differential seeding strategy within the same species at different latitudes. The species assemblage encountered in the plankton and sediment was similar, which indicates that the benthic resting stages seed an autochthonous phytoplankton flora in the area. High species diversity in all inoculated mesocosms was maintained throughout the experimental period, although the actual number of species was fewer at the end. The hydrographic conditions and timing of formation, survival, and germination of diatom resting stages in SE Arabian Sea are discussed.
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