MEPS 244:49-61 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps244049

Influence of phytoplankton taxonomic profile on the distribution of dimethylsulfide and dimethylsulfoniopropionate in the northwest Atlantic

M. G. Scarratt1,*, M. Levasseur1, S. Michaud1, G. Cantin1, M. Gosselin2, S. J. de Mora2,**

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, 850 route de la Mer, Mont-Joli, Québec G5H 3Z4, Canada
2Institut des sciences de la mer (ISMER), Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
*Email: **Present address: International Atomic Energy Agency, Marine Environmental Laboratory, 4 Quai Antoine 1er, BP 800, Monaco 98012, Monaco

ABSTRACT: Distributions of dimethylsulfide (DMS) and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) were surveyed in surface waters of the NW Atlantic in May 1998, a few weeks after the spring bloom. A triangular transect extending from Nova Scotia to Bermuda and northeast toward Newfoundland encompassed 4 major oceanic biogeochemical provinces: Northwest Atlantic Continental Shelves (NWCS), Gulf Stream (GFST), North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre (NAST) and the North Atlantic Drift (NADR). Surface concentrations of DMS and DMSP were highest in the NADR, with peaks up to 8.9 nM DMS, 44.1 nM dissolved DMSP (DMSPd) and 240 nM particulate DMSP (DMSP p). The phytoplankton assemblage throughout the study area was dominated by dinoflagellates and prymnesiophytes. Statistically significant correlations were observed between the abundance of dinoflagellates and prymnesiophytes and the concentrations of DMS and DMSP along the transect. Size-fractionation of DMSP p revealed the 2 to 11 µm fraction to be the most important contributor to total DMSP (mean 72%, range 27% to 91% of total). In the region of the highest DMS(P) concentrations, the phytoplankton assemblage was dominated by prymnesiophytes and dinoflagellates, with Chrysochromulina spp. and Gyrodinium flagellare being the most abundant. The abundance of these taxa showed a marked correlation with total DMSP p and with the 2 to 11 µm size fraction of DMSP in which these cells are found. This plankton assemblage was observed both early and late in the transect, which may indicate that it is a persistent feature along the northern side of the Gulf Stream at this time of year. Sea-air flux of DMS was calculated based on 2 different models. The results showed peaks in flux corresponding to the peaks in DMS concentration in surface water. Pooling and averaging the values for each biogeochemical province reveals DMS concentrations lower than the average values of an existing global DMS database for the same regions and times.


KEY WORDS: Dimethylsulfide · DMS · Dimethylsulfoniopropionate · DMSP · Prymnesiophyte · Dinoflagellate · Chrysochromulina spp. · Gyrodinium flagellare


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