NANO Alumnus S. K. Baliarsingh and co-authors published the following article in the Harmful Algae

Characterization of oceanic Noctiluca blooms not associated with hypoxia in the Northeastern Arabian Sea

Lotliker et al. (2018) Harmful Algae, Vol 74, pp. 46-57, DOI 10.1016/j.hal.2018.03.008


Intense blooms of the heterotrophic dinoflagellate, green Noctiluca scintillans, have been reported annually in the Northern Arabian Sea since the early 2000s. Although not known to produce organic toxins, these blooms are still categorized as a harmful due to their association with massive fish mortalities. Recent work has attributed these blooms to the vertical expansion of the oxygen minimum zone, driven by cultural eutrophication from major coastal cities in western India. As diatoms are preferred prey of green Noctiluca scintillans, more frequent blooms of this mixotroph will likely impact the productivity of important fisheries in the region. The present study uses a satellite algorithm to determine the distribution of both diatom and green Noctiluca blooms in the Northeastern Arabian Sea from 2009 to 2016. The results from shipboard microscopy of phytoplankton community composition were used to validate the satellite estimates. The satellite algorithm showed 76% accuracy for detection of green Noctiluca and 92% for diatoms. Shipboard measurements and data from biogeochemical-Argo floats were used to assess the relationship between oxygen concentrations and green Noctiluca blooms in the Northeastern Arabian Sea. Regardless of the presence of a Noctiluca bloom, the dissolved oxygen in the photic zone was always >70% saturated, with an average oxygen saturation >90%. The variability in the relative abundance of diatoms and green Noctiluca is not correlated with changes in oxygen concentration. These findings provide no evidence that cultural eutrophication has contributed to the decadal scale shifts in plankton composition in the Northeastern Arabian Sea oceanic waters. Conversely, the climatic warming of surface waters would have intensified stratification, thereby reducing net nutrient flux to the photic zone and decreasing silicate to nitrate ratios (Si:N); both factors that could increase the competitive advantage of the mixotroph, green Noctiluca, over diatoms. If so, the decadal-scale trajectory of phytoplankton community composition in the Northeastern Arabian Sea may be a harbinger of future climate-driven change in other productive oceanic systems.


  • Noctiluca scintillans
  • Diatom
  • Biogeochemical-Argo
  • Algorithm
  • Hypoxia
  • Harmful algal bloom
  • Arabian sea

Link for the publication here

Would you like to advertise your latest publication in NANO? Contact us: