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The variability in DMSP content and DMSP lyase activity in marine dinoflagellates

November 12, 2013

More than twenty years ago Maureen Keller and co-workers published a study that identified dinoflagellates as an important marine phytoplankton group with respect to the production of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP). Here, we present a synthesis and analysis of all the DMSP and DMSP lyase activity (DLA) measurements currently available for dinoflagellates. The data cover 110 species and strains and reveal over 6 orders of magnitude variability in intracellular DMSP concentrations and substantial variations in DLA in 23 strains. Inter-specific variability was explored with reference to a range of biological characteristics. The presence of a theca did not appear to be related to DMSP concentration but there was a potential relationship with toxicity (P=0.06) and bioluminescent species produced significantly lower concentrations (P<0.01) than non-bioluminescent ones. DMSP concentrations were related to plastid types (P<0.05); dinoflagellates with haptophyte-like plastids contained lower amounts of DMSP than those with peridinin plastids (P<0.01), whereas those containing cryptomonad-like plastids tended to have higher DMSP concentrations. Heterotrophic dinoflagellates were also considered given their importance in the natural environment. They are the only heterotrophs known to synthesise DMSP and this ability may support the theory that they are of photosynthetic origin. However, the heterotrophic species investigated so far suggest wide variability in DMSP content and the species Oxyrrhis marina had no detectable DMSP. The oceanic province of origin significantly affected the DMSP concentrations (P<0.05) with higher DMSP content observed in dinoflagellates from the Mediterranean province, the Kuroshio Current province and the East Coastal Australian province. Overall this study supports the concept that DMSP-containing dinoflagellates are an important potential source of DMS to the global atmosphere and highlights current gaps in knowledge.

Caruana A M N, Gill M, in press. The variability in DMSP content and DMSP lyase activity in marine dinoflagellates, Progress in Oceanography, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2013.10.014. Article.

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