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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 427:71-81 (2011)  -  DOI:

Potential uptake of dissolved organic matter by seagrasses and macroalgae

Tom Van Engeland1,*, Tjeerd J. Bouma1, Edward P. Morris2, Fernando G. Brun2, Gloria Peralta2, Miguel Lara2, Iris E. Hendriks3, Karline Soetaert1, Jack J. Middelburg1,4

1Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology (CEME), Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO), PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Department of Biology (Area of Ecology), Faculty of Environmental and Marine Science, University of Cadiz,
11510 Puerto Real, Cadiz, Spain
3Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), c/ Miquel Marquès 21, 07190 Esporles, Spain
4Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.021, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) acts as a large reservoir of fixed nitrogen. Whereas DON utilization is common in the microbial community, little is known about utilization by macrophytes. We investigated the ability of the coexisting temperate marine macrophytes Zostera noltii, Cymodocea nodosa, and Caulerpa prolifera to take up nitrogen and carbon from small organic substrates of different molecular complexities (urea, glycine, L-leucine, and L-phenylalanine) and from dissolved organic matter (DOM) derived from algal and bacterial cultures (substrates with a complex composition). In addition to inorganic nitrogen, nitrogen from small organic substrates could be taken up in significant amounts by all macrophytes. Substrate uptake by the aboveground tissue differed from that of the belowground tissue. No relationships between carbon and nitrogen uptake of small organics were found. The preference for individual organic substrates was related to their structural complexity and C:N ratio. Uptake of algae-derived organic nitrogen was of similar magnitude as inorganic nitrogen, and was preferred over bacteria-derived nitrogen. These results add to the growing evidence that direct or quick indirect DON utilization may be more widespread among aquatic macrophytes than traditionally thought.

KEY WORDS: Uptake · Dissolved organic nitrogen · Stable isotopes · Zostera noltii · Cymodocea nodosa · Caulerpa prolifera · Seagrasses · Macroalgae

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Cite this article as: Van Engeland T, Bouma TJ, Morris EP, Brun FG and others (2011) Potential uptake of dissolved organic matter by seagrasses and macroalgae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 427:71-81.

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