, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 179-184

An optical method for the rapid measurement of micromolar concentrations of nitrate in marine phytoplankton cultures

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This method of nitrate determination by ultraviolet absorption spectrometry is based on the measurement of sample absorbance at a single wavelength (220 nm), which was chosen on the basis of the absorption spectra of the main components of artificial seawater in the ultraviolet domain. No reagents are used and no sophisticated instruments are necessary. For standards prepared in artificial seawater, the relationship between absorbance and nitrate concentration is linear up to 500 μmol N L−1 and the detection limit is 1 μmol N L−1. Precision is 1.5%. Urea and amino acids did not interfere at concentrations typical of seawater. The method also measures nitrite, but this interference only becomes important for species which excrete large amounts of nitrite. The method is extremely rapid, simple to implement and does not require the use of toxic chemicals such as cadmium. It should prove useful for monitoring quickly the nitrate concentrations in laboratory cultures of marine phytoplankton.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.