Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Biology

Supervisor

Dr. Zoë Lindo

Abstract

The predominant input of available nitrogen (N) in boreal forest ecosystems originates from moss-associated cyanobacteria, which fix unavailable atmospheric N2, contribute to the soil N pool, and thereby support forest productivity. Although increases in N availability, temperature, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations are expected in Canada’s boreal region over the next century, little is known about the combined effects of these factors on N2 fixation by axenic cyanobacteria or the associated mechanisms. I assessed changes in N2 fixation by Nostoc punctiforme under different global environmental change scenarios and examined correlations between the response and changes in growth, heterocyst percentage, and heterocyst activity. With available N present, N. punctiforme did not perform N2 fixation or form heterocysts. Elevated CO2 stimulated growth and N2 fixation, but this result was influenced by a temperature-mediated growth cycle. Overall, my findings suggest a decrease in boreal N2 fixation rates in response to global environmental change.


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