MEPS 179:71-79 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps179071

Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in marine copepods and its relation with diets and salinity

Kam W. Tang*, Hans G. Dam, Pieter T. Visscher, Timothy D. Fenn

Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA

ABSTRACT: The main goal of this study was to assess the effects of algal diets and water salinity on the bodily content of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in estuarine copepods. In laboratory experiments, Temora longicornis contained more DMSP when fed DMSP-rich Tetraselmis impellucida (prasinophyte) than when fed DMSP-poor Dunaliella tertiolecta (chlorophyte). The DMSP content of T. longicornis after gut clearance was curvilinearly related to the ingestion rate. These observations suggest that the copepods incorporated the dietary source of DMSP into their body tissue. On the same diet, T. longicornis contained more DMSP at higher salinity, indicating an osmoregulatory function of DMSP. However, DMSP appears to be a minor osmolyte compared with free amino acids. The DMSP content of T. longicornis decreased faster in response to a decrease in salinity than it increased with an increase in salinity, implicating separate mechanisms for accumulation and removal of DMSP in the copepod. We also measured the bodily content of DMSP from field-collected animals. Five species of calanoid copepods from Long Island Sound contained DMSP, not associated with gut content, which varied interspecifically from 0.02 to 1.03 nmol ind.-1. Carbon-specific DMSP content of the copepods was comparable to that reported for some diatoms, chlorophytes and cryptophytes. We argue that copepod biomass may, at times, represents a substantial source of particulate DMSP in the water column.

KEY WORDS: DMSP · Copepod biomass · Diets · Salinity shift · Osmoregulation

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