Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 341–351

The effect of nitrogen limitation on cellular DMSP and DMS release in marine phytoplankton: climate feedback implications

  • William G. Sunda
  • Rance Hardison
  • Ronald P. Kiene
  • Eva Bucciarelli
  • Hyakubun Harada
Research Article

Abstract.

The effect of nitrogen limitation on intracellular dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and its enzymatic cleavage to dimethylsulfide (DMS) was investigated in semi-continuous cultures of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and the chain-forming coastal diatom Skeletonema costatum, both ecologically important species. The diatom had a DMSP/C molar ratio of 0.0020 (1% of cell carbon) under nutrient sufficient conditions, and increased its DMSP/C ratio by 70% under nitrogen limitation. The coccolithophore had a constitutively high intracellular DMSP concentration (~200 mmol per liter of cell volume, an estimated 5% of cell carbon) and N-limitation of this species caused no measurable increase in DMSP. Instead, N-limitation of this species increased the activity of the DMSP cleavage enzyme, DMSPlyase, which resulted in a 20-fold increase in the moles of DMS in the culture per unit of cell volume and a 40- to 80-fold increase in the ratio of DMS to chl a. Our results and previously published findings suggest that N-limitation is likely a contributing factor to the extremely high DMS:chl a ratios observed in nutrient limited surface ocean waters under thermally stratified conditions. Thus, N-limitation may play a role in climate feedback mechanisms involving biologically derived DMS.

Keywords.

Dimethylsulfide dimethylsulfoniopropionate DMS, DMSP phytoplankton nitrogen limitation nutrients climate 

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Copyright information

© Eawag, Dübendorf 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • William G. Sunda
    • 1
  • Rance Hardison
    • 1
  • Ronald P. Kiene
    • 2
    • 3
  • Eva Bucciarelli
    • 1
    • 4
  • Hyakubun Harada
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.National Ocean ServiceNOAABeaufortUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of South AlabamaMobileUSA
  3. 3.Dauphin Island Sea LabDauphin IslandUSA
  4. 4.LEMAR, IUEMPlouzanéFrance

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