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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 487:27-39 (2013)  -  DOI:

In situ 13C tracer experiments elucidate carbon translocation rates and allocation patterns in eelgrass Zostera marina

James E. Kaldy1,*, Cheryl A. Brown1, Christian P. Andersen2

1US EPA-Western Ecology Division, 2111 SE Marine Science Center Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
2US EPA-Western Ecology Division, 200 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, Oregon 97333, USA

ABSTRACT: Zostera marina L. carbon dynamics have been intensively studied, yet in situ translocation rate estimates remain elusive, particularly for north temperate seagrasses. To better understand carbohydrate synthesis, allocation and use in Z. marina, we conducted summer and winter in situ 13C labeling experiments and measured the δ13C of bulk tissue and individual carbohydrate compounds. Leaf tissue exhibited immediate isotope enrichment within hours of the tracer pulse. As the isotope ratio of the leaf tissue decreased over a period of days, enrichment became more evident in the belowground tissues (rhizome and roots) not directly exposed to the 13C-dissolved inorganic carbon label, indicating that non-structural carbohydrate was translocated belowground. Rhizome δ13C increased for up to 2 wk after the 13C label pulse. The isotopic enrichment of glucose, fructose and sucrose were similar and significantly greater than the enrichment of myo-inositol. Maximum enrichment occurred in the glucose pool, with leaf tissue at 258 ± 61‰ and rhizome tissue at 55.1 ± 28.8‰ during the July 2004 labeling period. Leaf excess 13C loss rates (4 d average) were on the order of 11% 13C d-1, while the excess 13C accumulation rate in the rhizome combined with roots was about 1.5% 13C d-1 (4 d average). Whole plant excess 13C loss rates as a result of respiration, detrital production and exudation ranged between about 8.8 and 10% 13C d-1 (4 d average). The results provide important estimates of carbon uptake and translocation that can be used to better understand whole plant carbon budgets as well as the transfer of seagrass-derived carbon to other trophic communities.

KEY WORDS: 13C tracer · Translocation · Carbohydrate · Zostera marina · Compound-specific isotope analysis · Carbon dynamics

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Cite this article as: Kaldy JE, Brown CA, Andersen CP (2013) In situ 13C tracer experiments elucidate carbon translocation rates and allocation patterns in eelgrass Zostera marina. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 487:27-39.

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