Regional and temporal variation in the composition of water-soluble carbohydrates from Phaeocystis colonies sampled in the southern North Sea was small during spring 1994, except for a high variability in the contribution of glucose. Glucose is universally present in storage products of microalgae; the relative constancy of the carbohydrate pattern of the other monosaccharides suggests that these are part of the more refractory colony mucus. In all Phaeocystis samples arabinose dominated, followed by xylose (Belgian coast) or galactose and mannose (Dutch coast). Rhamnose, glucuronate and O-methylated sugars were present in lower amounts. The latter, always present in samples containing Phaeocystis, may be typical for North Sea strains. The sugar patterns we report here differ from those presented in the literature concerning Phaeocystis-derived material, and also from the sugar fingerprint in the preceding diatom bloom. The Phaeocystis mucus apparently behaves as particulate matter since it was retained on filters of over 1 mu m. This characteristic together with its refractory nature, typical of 'transparent exopolymer particles' (TEPs), must have consequences for the heterotrophic microbial community in terms of adherence and substrate availability.
- MARINE DIATOMS