Spatial and temporal variations in size-fractionated primary production (PP) and chl a, in relation to ambient physicochemical parameters, were studied in the three distinct ecosystems of northeastern Levantine Basin namely eutrophic Mersin Bay, mesotrophic Rhodes Gyre, and oligotrophic offshore waters. These ecosystems were visited in July and September 2012 and March and May 2013. Total primary production (TPP) rates ranged between 0.22 and 17.8 mg C m(-3) h(-1) within the euphotic zone, whereas depth-integrated TPP rates were in the range 21.5-348.8 mg C m(-2) h(-1) (mean: 105.5 188 mg C m(-2) h(-1)), with the lowest rates recorded for offshore waters. Similar spatio-temporal variations were observed in chl a concentrations, ranging from 2.3 to 117.9 mg m(-2) (mean: 28.9 +/- 124.9 mg m(-2)) in the study area. The Mersin Bay TPP rates have exceeded almost 8-12 times those measured in the offshore waters and the Rhodes Gyre; however, the chl a concentrations measured in coastal waters (0.343 mg m(-3)) and the Rhodes Gyre (0.308 mg m(-3)) were only threefold larger than the offshore values. PP and chl a were dominated by picoplankton in the study area whereas small nanoplankton, being the most active, displayed the highest assimilation ratio in offshore waters (6.8) and the Rhodes Gyre (2.8). In the upper-layer waters depleted of P (0.02-0.03 mu M) of the northeastern Mediterranean, a positive correlation was observed between NO3 + NO2 and PP (and thus, chl a), which strongly suggests that reactive P and inorganic nitrogen are co-limiting factors in the production and biomass distribution of the phytoplankton community in both shelf and offshore waters. (C) 2018 Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Production and hosting by Elsevier Sp. z o.o.