MEPS 271:77-86 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps271077

Temporal patterns of biological dimethylsulfide (DMS) consumption during laboratory-induced phytoplankton bloom cycles

Mikhail Zubkov1, Laura J. Linn2, Rudolf Amann3, Ronald P. Kiene2,*

1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
2Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama 36688, USA, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, USA
3Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Phytoplankton bloom cycles were followed for 9 d in two 20 l carboy mesocosms filled with water from the offshore plume of Mobile Bay Alabama, USA, and incubated under fluorescent light. One of the blooms was enriched by addition of nitrate+phosphate (+nutrients), and both blooms were used to study how dimethylsulfide (DMS) concentrations and biological consumption varied over the bloom cycles. Peaks of algal biomass (15-22 µg chlorophyll a l-1) in the blooms were followed within 1 d by peaks of the DMS precursor, particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSPp; 100-140 nM). DMS concentrations increased rapidly during the early bloom, rising from 1 nM on Day 1 up to 12 nM in the unamended carboy and up to 17 nM in the +nutrient carboy on Day 6. Maximum values for DMS concentrations, DMS consumption rates (as measured with 35S-DMS), and bacterial production were observed during the early decline of phytoplankton biomass. DMS consumption rates were initially 0.8 nM d-1 and increased to 3.1 nM d-1 in the unamended carboy and to 9.1 nM d-1 in the +nutrient carboy. Rate constants for DMS consumption (0.25-0.95 d-1) initially decreased as DMS concentrations increased, resulting in longer turnover times for DMS during the peak and early decline of the blooms. Assimilation of DMS-sulfur by bacterioplankton accounted for 4-22% of the total DMS consumption and higher rates of DMS assimilation occurred in the +nutrients bloom. Despite a bloom and decline of total heterotrophic bacterial abundances, bacterial community composition at the major phylogenetic group level remained relatively constant in both blooms, although the alpha proteobacteria showed a temporal increase in abundance in the +nutrient carboy. The concentration ratios of DMS:chlorophyll a and DMS:DMSP displayed non-linear, sigmoidal patterns over the bloom cycles and these ratios were not substantially affected by the nutrient amendment. Our results demonstrate that uncoupling of DMS production and biological consumption can occur early in a bloom cycle, causing DMS concentrations to rise significantly before biological consumption responds to draw down the DMS.


KEY WORDS: Nutrients · Sulfur cycle · Biogeochemistry · Gulf of Mexico · Climate · Bacterial metabolism · Uptake


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