MEPS 237:27-39 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps237027

The transformation of iodate to iodide in marine phytoplankton cultures

George T. F. Wong*, Ajcharaporn U. Piumsomboon**, William M. Dunstan

Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0276, USA
*E-mail: **Present address: Department of Marine Science, Chulalongkorn University, 254 Phyathai Road Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

ABSTRACT: Six species of phytoplankton, representing 6 major phylogenetic groups (2 oceanic species: a cyanobacteria, Synechococcus sp., and a coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi; and 4 coastal species: a prasinophyte, Tetraselmis sp., the green algae Dunaliella tertiolecta, the diatom Skeletonema costatum and a dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae) were tested for their ability to reduce iodate to iodide in batch cultures. They all did so to varying degrees. Thus, the reduction of iodate to iodide by phytoplankton may be a general phenomenon in the marine environment. At ambient concentrations of iodate, the rates of depletion of iodate and appearance of iodide varied between 0.8 and 0.02, and between 0.3 and 0.02 nmol µg chlorophyll a-1 d-1, respectively. E. huxleyi was the least efficient while A. carterae was the most efficient in the depletion of iodate. However, in the formation of iodide, while E. huxleyi was also the least efficient, Synechococcus sp. were the most efficient. The rates of appearance of iodide were noticeably slower than the corresponding rates of depletion of iodate, suggesting that part of the iodate might have been converted to forms of iodine other than iodide in these cases. The slight mismatch in the rank order of the rates of depletion of iodate and appearance of iodide between the phytoplankton species was traced to this variable and incomplete conversion of iodate to iodide. These rates were increased by up to over an order of magnitude upon enriching the culture medium with 5 and 10 µM of iodate. The depletion of iodate and appearance of iodide occurred in all growth phases. However, the rates might vary with growth phase and the patterns of these variations might be species-specific. Phytoplankton growth was not impeded even under unnaturally high concentrations of iodate implying that there is little interaction between iodine processing and the metabolic activity of cell growth.

KEY WORDS: Iodine · Elemental speciation · Nitrate reductase · Marine phytoplankton · Oxidation-reduction

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