Factors affecting the cycling of dimethylsulfide and dimethylsulfoniopropionate in coral reef waters of the Great Barrier Reef

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Jones, GB, Curran, M, Broadbent, AD, King, S, Fischer, E & Jones, RJ 2007, 'Factors affecting the cycling of dimethylsulfide and dimethylsulfoniopropionate in coral reef waters of the Great Barrier Reef', Environmental Chemistry, vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 310–322.

The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN06065


A study of dissolved dimethylsulfide (DMSw), dissolved and particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSPd, DMSPp), and atmospheric dimethylsulfide (DMSa) was carried out at two inshore fringing coral reefs (Orpheus Island and Magnetic Island) in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) to investigate the variation of these organosulfur substances with season, sea surface temperature, tides, and time of day. Highest concentrations of these organosulfur substances occurred in the summer months at both reefs, with lowest concentrations occurring during winter, suggesting a biological source of these compounds from the reef flats. At the Orpheus Island reef, where more measurements were made, DMSw and DMSPd were significantly correlated with tidal height during the flooding tide over the reef (r = 0.37, P < 0.05; r = 0.58, P < 0.01 respectively), and elevated DMSw and DMSa concentrations generally occurred in the daylight hours, possibly reflecting photosynthetic production of DMSw from the reef flats. Chamber experiments with the staghorn coral Acropora formosa confirmed that corals produce DMSw in the day. DMSw (r = 0.43, P < 0.001) and DMSPd (r = 0.59, P < 0.001) were significantly positively correlated with sea surface temperatures (SST) at the Orpheus Island reef. During severe coral bleaching at the eutrophic Magnetic Island reef in the summer, DMSw concentrations decreased at SSTs greater than 30°C, suggesting that reef production of DMSw decreases during elevated SSTs. This was later confirmed in chamber experiments with Acropora formosa, which showed that when this coral was exposed to temperatures at its bleaching threshold (31°C), decreased production of DMSw occurred. These results suggest that DMS and DMSP in coral zooxanthellae may be functioning as antioxidants, but further experiments are needed to substantiate this.

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