Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 394–402

DMSP in marine macroalgae and macroinvertebrates: Distribution, function, and ecological impacts

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00027-007-0888-z

Cite this article as:
Van Alstyne, K.L. & Puglisi, M.P. Aquat. Sci. (2007) 69: 394. doi:10.1007/s00027-007-0888-z


The production of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and its cleavage products are well studied in phytoplankton. However, less is known about their sources, distributions, functions, and impacts in other marine organisms. We examined the distribution of DMSP in benthic macroalgae and macroinvertebrates geographically and taxonomically. In macroalgae, concentrations significantly increased from the tropics to the poles in the northern, but not the southern, hemisphere. The increase in the northern hemisphere was due to an increase in concentrations with latitude in the Chlorophyta. This pattern was generated by a relatively high proportion of species in the order Ulvales (median [DMSP]: 145 μmol g-1 dry mass (DM)) at higher latitudes, and a high proportion of species in the orders Caulerpales and Siphonocladales (median [DMSP]: below detection level for both orders) in the tropics. Low DMSP concentrations (< 10 μmol g-1 DM) were reported from all red and brown macroalgae, except Polysiphonia and Halopytis. In macroalgae, some of the reported functions of DMSP and its cleavage products included acting as a compatible solute, an anti-herbivore defense, a reactive oxygen scavenger, and a cryoprotectant. Among macroinvertebrates, DMSP occurred in higher concentrations in cnidarians than in sponges and molluscs. Concentrations in animals harboring endosymbiotic algae were 6.5 times higher than animals without symbionts. This and direct measurements of DMSP from isolated symbionts suggest that endosymbionts are a major source of DMSP for some macroinvertebrates. Diet may be a source of DMSP in animals that lack endosymbionts. The functions and impacts of DMSP in invertebrates are not well known.


Biogeographycommunity interactionsphenotypic plasticityphysiological ecologytaxonomic distribution

Copyright information

© Eawag, Dübendorf 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shannon Point Marine CenterWestern Washington UniversityAnacortesUSA