, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 521–532 | Cite as

Trace element transformation during the development of an estuarine algal bloom

  • James G. Sanders
  • Gerhardt F. Riedel


Copper and arsenic underwent large changes in chemical form during the development and senescence of natural phytoplankton blooms in the Patuxent River, a subestuary of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Arsenate was rapidly reduced to arsenite and methylated species. At a total arsenic concentration of 20 nmol l−1, arsenate reduction rates ranged from 50 amol cell−1 d−1 to >230 amol cell−1 d−1, with the rate and extent of reduction dependent upon the concentration of arsenic, the dominant phytoplankton present, the season, and the degree of decline in phosphorus concentrations during bloom development. In general, the percentage of organically-associated copper was lowest (20–40% of total copper) during periods of rapid cell growth and highest (60–100% of total copper) during periods of cell decline or periods of dominance by red tide-forming dinoflagellates, a pattern associated with periods of high release of organic compounds during either bloom senescence or dense algal blooms. The end result of biological mediation was to increase the proportion of each element present in a less toxic form, thus affecting the potential toxicity to a natural ecosystem.


Arsenic Phytoplankton Dinoflagellate Algal Bloom Centric Diatom 
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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. Sanders
    • 1
  • Gerhardt F. Riedel
    • 1
  1. 1.Benedict Estuarine Research LaboratoryThe Academy of Natural SciencesBenedict

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