Coralline algae as a globally significant pool of marine dimethylated sulfur
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Marine algae are key sources of the biogenic sulfur compound dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), a vital component of the marine sulfur cycle. Autotrophic ecosystem engineers such as red coralline algae support highly diverse and biogeochemically active ecosystems and are known to be high DMSP producers, but their importance in the global marine sulfur cycle has not yet been appreciated. Using a global sampling approach, we show that red coralline algae are a globally significant pool of DMSP in the oceans, estimated to be ~110 × 1012 moles worldwide during the summer months. Latitude was a major driver of observed regional-scale variations, with peaks in polar and tropical climate regimes, reflecting the varied cellular functions for DMSP (e.g., as a cryoprotectant and antioxidant). A temperate coralline algal bed was investigated in more detail to also identify local-scale temporal variations. Here, water column DMSP was driven by water temperature, and to a lesser extent, cloud cover; two factors which are also vital in controlling coralline algal growth. This study demonstrates that coralline algae harbor a large pool of dimethylated sulfur, thereby playing a significant role in both the sulfur and carbon marine biogeochemical cycles. However, coralline algal habitats are severely threatened by projected climate change; a loss of this habitat may thus detrimentally impact oceanic sulfur and carbon biogeochemical cycling.
Burdett , H , Hatton , A & Kamenos , N 2015 , ' Coralline algae as a globally significant pool of marine dimethylated sulfur ' Global Biogeochemical Cycles , vol 29 , no. 10 , pp. 1845–1853 . DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005274
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
© 2015. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This research was conducted while H.B. was in receipt of Natural Environment Research Council funding (NE/H525303/1) and a Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) Research Fellowship (funding provided by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions), and while N.K. was in receipt of Royal Society of Edinburgh / Scottish Government funding (RES 48704/1). Additional support for sampling collections at the 10 study sites was provided by the European Community via ASSEMBLE (grant 227799), a University of Glasgow Mobility Scholarship, and the Joseph Burr Tyrrell Fund from The Geological Society of London and the British Antarctic Survey.
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