Benthic decomposition of Zostera marina roots: A controlled laboratory experiment

Anne Turi Amtoft Neubauer, Anna Grethe Underlien Pedersen, Kai Finster, Rodney A. Herbert, Andrew P. Donnelly, Pierluigi Viaroli, Gianmarco Giordani, Rutger De Wit, Bente Aa Lomstein

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The initial benthic decomposition of Zostera marina roots was studied in a controlled flow-through chamber experiment for 23 days. Sediment chambers without added roots served as controls. The inflowing and outflowing artificial seawater (ASW) was analyzed for O 2, ΣCO 2, urea-N, NH 4 + and NO 2 -+NO 3 -. Sediment profiles of Eh, particulate organic carbon (POC) and nitrogen, dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), dissolved free amino acids (DFAA), urea-N, NH 4 +, DFAA and urea turnover rates, sulfate reduction and counts of total anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria and different functional groups were determined. Fluxes of O 2, ΣCO 2, urea-N and NH 4 + were stimulated during root decomposition compared to the unamended control. There were indications of stimulated bacterial growth based on counts of total anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria, anaerobic phosphatase utilizers, ammonifyers and sulfate reducers. Independent estimates of nitrogen and carbon incorporation into bacterial biomass during root decomposition indicate that a major fraction of the nitrogen for microbial growth was mobilized from the indigenous particulate organic nitrogen (PON) pool, whereas the energy source for bacterial growth was mainly obtained from the added eelgrass roots. Most of the nitrogen mineralized during root decomposition was incorporated into the bacterial biomass resulting in a low efflux of urea-N and inorganic nitrogen from the sediment to the water column.

TidsskriftJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Sider (fra-til)105-124
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 15 dec. 2004


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