, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 307-317

Comparison of methods for the analysis of dissolved urea in seawater

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A comparison between the diacetyl monoxime and urease methods for measuring dissolved concentrations of urea in seawater was conducted in artificial seawater, phytoplankton-culture filtrate and both natural and ureaspiked field samples from coastal and oceanic enviroments during 1984. The urease technique underestimated urea concentrations in unbuffered photoplankton-culture filtrate as a result of the inhibition of the urease enzyme, causing the incomplete hydrolysis of urea in these samples. Factors responsible for inhibiting urease included pH, seawater ions, and possibly extracellular metabolites produced in unialgal cultures. Seawater type and time of sample collection were important variables affecting urea measurement by the urease method, and recovery of internal standards ranged from 40 to 100%. Increasing the heating time of the urease assay, or the concentration of urease added to the seawater samples increased the amount of urea determined by the urease method. However, measured values were still less than the concentration of the urea internal standards. The diacetyl monoxime method was suitable for urea determinations in all the seawater samples we examined; it was easily automated, and the results were accurate and reproducible. This modified technique is recommended for measuring disolved concentrations of urea in seawater.

Communicated by P. C. Schroeder, Pullman