AME 23:85-95 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/ame023085

Sulfide-induced release of phosphate from sediments of coastal lagoons and the possible relation to the disappearance of Ruppia sp.

S. K. Heijs1,2, R. Azzoni3, G. Giordani3, H. M. Jonkers1, D. Nizzoli3, P. Viaroli3, H. van Gemerden1,*

1Microbial Ecology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES), University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands
2Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre of Estuarine and Coastal Ecology, PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
3Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Parma, Viale delle Scienze 33/a, 43100 Parma, Italy
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The production and consumption of sulfide and its influence on phosphorous cycling were studied in a hypertrophic coastal lagoon (Valle Smarlacca, Italy). Oxygen measurements revealed that the water phase was supersaturated except for the layer directly overlying the sediment. This layer was devoid of oxygen and contained sulfide at all times. Maximal rates of sulfide production, calculated from in situ profiles, were observed in the 0 to 2 cm sediment layer and the 1 cm water layer directly above. Sediment iron data suggested a moderate chemical buffering capacity towards free sulfide; however, the in situ buffering capacity was fully exploited. Stirring increased the chemical buffer, indicating that, in situ, part of the iron did not contribute to the chemical buffer. The potential rate of biological sulfide oxidation, estimated in sediment slurries amended with oxygen, was high; however, the actual rate was low due to a shortage of oxygen in the sediments and the overlying water. Evidence was obtained for enhanced release of phosphate caused by free sulfide. Under simulated natural conditions the release of phosphate exceeded the initial concentration of Fe-bound phosphate by an order of magnitude, indicating a significant contribution of non-iron-bound phosphate. The observations in Valle Smarlacca were used to shed light on the virtually complete disappearance of Ruppia sp. from other lagoons of the Valli di Comacchio (Northern Italy).


KEY WORDS: Eutrophication · Phosphate mobilization · Sulfide production · Ruppia · Coastal lagoons


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