Polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUA) are supposed to play critical roles in chemically-mediated plankton interactions. Laboratory studies suggest that they act as mediators of chemical defense and chemical communication. PUA are oxylipins containing an α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehyde structure element and are mainly found in diatoms. We present here a detailed surface mapping of PUA during a spring bloom of the diatom Skeletonema marinoi in the Adriatic Sea. We monitored dissolved PUA, as well as particulate PUA, which are produced by phytoplankton after cell disintegration. Our survey revealed a patchy distribution of PUA and shows that at most stations S. marinoi is the major contributor to the overall PUA. Our data also suggest that lysis of a diatom bloom can contribute significantly to the dissolved PUA concentrations and that other producers, which are smaller in cell size compared to diatoms, have to be taken into account as well if the total PUA content of marine samples is considered. The analyses of samples collected in deeper water suggests that diatom contribution to PUA decreases with depth, while smaller-sized unidentified organisms take place as dominant contributors to the PUA concentrations.
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