Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 675–682 | Cite as

Effects of nutrient enrichment on the release of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen by the scleractinian coral Montipora digitata

  • Y. TanakaEmail author
  • H. Ogawa
  • T. Miyajima


The effects of nutrient enrichment on the release of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC and DON, respectively) from the coral Montipora digitata were investigated in the laboratory. Nitrate (NO3 ) and phosphate (PO4 3−) were supplied to the aquarium to get the final concentrations of 10 and 0.5 μmol l−1, respectively, and the corals were incubated for 8 days. The release rate of DON per unit coral surface area significantly decreased after the nutrient enrichment, while the release rate of DOC was constant. Because the chlorophyll a (chl a) content of zooxanthellae per unit surface area increased, the release rate of DOC significantly decreased when normalized to unit chl a. These results suggested that the incorporation of NO3 and PO4 3− stimulated the synthesis of new cellular components in the coral colonies and consequently, reduced extracellular release of DOC and DON. Actually, significant increase in N and P contents relative to C content was observed in the coral’s tissue after the nutrient enrichment. The present study has concluded that inorganic nutrient enrichment not only affects coral-algal metabolism inside the colony but also affects a microbial community around the coral because the organic matter released from corals functions as energy carrier in the coral reef ecosystem.


Dissolved organic matter Corals Zooxanthellae Nutrient enrichment Mucus 



We are grateful to K. Shimada (The University of Tokyo), A. Suzuki (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), K. Sakai (University of the Ryukyus), R. Iguchi (University of the Ryukyus), and R. Suwa (University of the Ryukyus) for the experimental setup and technical assistance. We are also grateful to anonymous reviewers who provided many helpful comments to improve the manuscript. This study was financially supported by Research Fellowships of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biogeochemistry Laboratory, Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoChibaJapan

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