Carbon stable isotope discrimination during respiration in three seaweed species

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Carvalho, MC & Eyre, BD 2011, 'Carbon stable isotope discrimination during respiration in three seaweed species', Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 437, pp. 41-49.

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Very little is known about seaweed stable carbon isotope discrimination during respiration (Δr, defined here as the difference between respired CO2 δ13C and algal tissue δ13C). However, Δr can give information on carbon metabolic pathways in seaweeds, and can also be helpful to better understand their role in carbon cycling. Here we measured the Δr of Ulva sp. (Chlorophyta), Pterocladia capillacea Bornet (Rhodophyta) and Sargassum sp. (Ochrophyta) under 3 different experimental conditions: at 15 and 25°C after strong illumination for 30 to 60 min, and at 25°C after at least 20 h in the dark. We observed a correlation between Δr and the respiratory quotient (RQ, defined as the ratio between CO2 release and O2 consumption), suggesting changes in the organic substrate used for respiration in the different treatments. Δr was positive in most cases, suggesting that carbohydrates were the likely substrate for respiration; however, Δr (and the RQ) decreased with an increase in temperature, suggesting increased use of lipids as substrates. Although Δr was not large (averaging 3‰), the influence of seaweed respiration on the δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon may need to be taken into account in ecosystems where seaweeds dominate primary production (i.e. eutrophic lagoons). Δr may also be important when interpreting seaweed δ13C values to determine the form of inorganic carbon used in photosynthesis.