Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 1803–1811 | Cite as

Influence of algal bloom degradation on nutrient release at the sediment–water interface in Lake Taihu, China

  • Mengyuan Zhu
  • Guangwei Zhu
  • Linlin Zhao
  • Xin Yao
  • Yunlin Zhang
  • Guang Gao
  • Boqiang Qin
Research Article


Algal bloom could drastically influence the nutrient cycling in lakes. To understand how the internal nutrient release responds to algal bloom decay, water and sediment columns were sampled at 22 sites from four distinct regions of China’s eutrophic Lake Taihu and incubated in the laboratory to examine the influence of massive algal bloom decay on nutrient release from sediment. The column experiment involved three treatments: (1) water and sediment (WS); (2) water and algal bloom (WA); and (3) water, sediment, and algal bloom (WSA). Concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), ammonium (NH 4 + -N), and orthophosphate (PO 4 3− -P) were recorded during incubation. The decay of algal material caused a more rapid decrease in DO than in the algae-free controls and led to significant increases in NH 4 + -N and PO 4 3− -P in the water. The presence of algae during the incubation had a regionally variable effect on sediment nutrient profiles. In the absence of decaying algae (treatment WS), sediment nutrient concentrations decreased during the incubation. In the presence of blooms (WSA), sediments from the river mouth released P to the overlying water, while sediments from other regions absorbed surplus P from the water. This experiment showed that large-scale algal decay will dramatically affect nutrient cycling at the sediment–water interface and would potentially transfer the function of sediment as “container” or “supplier” in Taihu, although oxygen exchange with atmosphere in lake water was stronger than in columns. The magnitude of the effect depends on the physical–chemical character of the sediments.


Lake Taihu Algal bloom Sediment–water interface Nutrient Nitrogen Phosphorus Black spot event 



This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171368) and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2008CB418103, 2012ZX07101-010). We thank the Taihu Laboratory for Lake Ecosystem Research (TLLER) for providing the laboratory and equipment. We would like to thank Feng Longqing for his help with sediment sampling, and Xue Jingchen and Zhang Chengying for their help with water quality analysis in laboratory. We would also like to thank Professor Hans Paerl from Institute of Marine Science, University of North Carolina (IMS–UNC) at Chapel Hill for his help in English writing and his scientific suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mengyuan Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guangwei Zhu
    • 1
  • Linlin Zhao
    • 1
  • Xin Yao
    • 1
  • Yunlin Zhang
    • 1
  • Guang Gao
    • 1
  • Boqiang Qin
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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