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Seasonal and spatial variability of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica

Borges, A.V., Champenois, W.
Aquatic botany 2015 v.125 pp. 72-79
dimethylsulfoniopropionate, macroalgae, phytoplankton, primary productivity, Posidonia oceanica, meadows, reactive oxygen species, light intensity, seagrasses, seasonal variation, summer, biomass production, rhizomes, roots, leaves
We investigated for the first time the occurrence of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in the leaves of Posidonia oceanica and we report its variability during 4 sampling periods covering the seasonal cycle (February, June, August and November) and along a gradient from 10m to 30m depth. The P. oceanica leaf DMSP content expressed per mass of dry weight (dw) ranged from 0.1 to 33.9μmolgdw−1 and averaged 5.0μmolgdw−1. It was higher than the DMSP content of roots and rhizomes that averaged ∼0.5μmolgdw−1. The leaf DMSP content showed seasonal variations, being highest in summer when primary production and biomass of P. oceanica were also highest. In August, the leaf DMSP content showed variations with depth, increasing from 30m to 10m depth. In summer, the leaf DMSP content was highest in the youngest sections of leaves (closest to base) than in the older ones (closest to apex). The seasonal and depth distribution suggest that the DMSP leaf content is positively related to irradiance, hence, we hypothesize that DMSP in P. oceanica plays a role as an antioxidant against reactive oxygen species, although we cannot unambiguously exclude other potential roles such as grazer deterrent. The average leaf DMSP content of P. oceanica is modest compared to high DMSP producing macroalgae and phytoplankton. Yet, the integrated DMSP stock associated to the meadows of P. oceanica is very large due to its enormous biomass, and at the community level it is 2 orders of magnitude higher than the potential integrated DMSP stock related to phytoplankton in the same area.