MEPS 320:55-63 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps320055

Seasonal variation in dimethylsulfoniopropionate related to microphytobenthos composition in intertidal estuarine sediments

S. A. van Bergeijk1,3, U. Wollenzien2, K. Schönefeldt1, L. J. Stal2,*

1Aquatic Microbiology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 127, 1018 WS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Marine Microbiology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology - KNAW, PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
3Present address: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad de Cádiz, Campus Rio San Pedro s/n, 11510 Puerto Real, Spain
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and algal pigments were measured monthly over 1 yr (May 1997 to June 1998) in intertidal sediments at 2 sampling sites along the Wester- and Oosterschelde (Netherlands). Temperature, salinity and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) were measured in the pore water and qualitative microscopic observations were made on the microphytobenthos present in the sediment. Both DMSP and pigment content correlated positively with temperature and salinity. However, the chlorophyll a- or fucoxanthin-specific DMSP contents were not affected by temperature, salinity or DIN. Simultaneous peaks of DMSP and chlorophyll a and fucoxanthin were observed in spring and in summer, and at 1 station also in winter. These peaks coincided with increases in epipelic diatoms. The DMSP content correlated with chlorophyll a and fucoxanthin and this relationship improved by excluding samples with a low ratio of fucoxanthin to chlorophyll a (chl a) indicative of a low amount of diatoms relative to other microalgae. The sediment molar ratio of DMSP:chl a was 9.2 ± 5.6 and 5.1 ± 3.6 for the Wester- and Oosterschelde, respectively, values similar to the cellular ratio in cultured diatoms. These results suggest that diatoms were the most important source of DMSP in the sediment. In summer, cyanobacteria and green algae were also present. While cyanobacteria did not contribute to the DMSP content, the data suggest that the amount of DMSP produced by other algae (probably Euglenophytes) produced similar to that produced by diatoms. Hence, microphytobenthos biomass and community composition were the main factors determining the DMSP content in the intertidal sediments of the Schelde estuary.

KEY WORDS: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate · DMSP · Diatoms · Microphytobenthos · Intertidal sediments · Pigments

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