MEPS 231:37-46 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps231037

Production and consumption of dimethylsulfide (DMS) and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in a diatom-dominated intertidal sediment

S. A. van Bergeijk1,*, K. Schönefeldt1, L. J. Stal2, J. Huisman1

1Aquatic Microbiology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 127, 1018 WS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Center for Estuarine and Coastal Ecology, PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
*Present address: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de \f\fCiencias del Mar, Universidad de Cádiz, Campus Rio San Pedro S/N, 11510 Puerto Real, Spain. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Intertidal sediments usually contain a high amount of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and therefore represent environments with a potentially high emission of dimethylsulfide (DMS). However, knowledge on production and release of DMSP in intertidal sediments is limited. Here, we present data on the diel variation of the total DMS and DMSP content (DMS[P]total) and the DMS(P) concentration in the porewater (DMS[P] porewater) in an intertidal sediment covered by diatoms. Measurements were made at low tide during the day and during the night. Both DMS(P)total and DMS(P) porewater were constant and did not respond to the changing conditions of light and oxygen in the sediment, indicating that production and consumption processes were in equilibrium. Incubation of diatoms under light/oxic, dark/oxic and dark/anoxic conditions suggested that no large amounts of DMSP were excreted under the different conditions applied. DMS(P) porewater was around 100 nM, which was about 3 orders of magnitude lower than DMS(P)total. Only after the onset of a heavy rainfall DMS(P) porewater in the sediment suddenly increased above 1 µM, which was explained by excretion of DMSP by DMSP-containing microorganisms in response to the osmotic shock. Both DMSP and DMS were rapidly degraded in sediment slurries, especially under oxic conditions, and degradation closely followed first order kinetics. We conclude that although intertidal sediments contain high total amounts of DMSP, a relatively low amount of DMSP is released by the microphytobenthos under naturally fluctuating light and oxygen conditions, and once released, DMSP and DMS are rapidly degraded in the upper oxygenated sediment. This explains the low flux of DMS from intertidal sediments to the atmosphere reported in the literature.


KEY WORDS: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) · Dimethylsulfide (DMS) · Intertidal sediment · Diatoms · Degradation rates · Diel variation


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