Articles | Volume 6, issue 12
Biogeosciences, 6, 3071–3080, 2009
Biogeosciences, 6, 3071–3080, 2009

  17 Dec 2009

17 Dec 2009

Effects of ultraviolet B radiation on (not so) transparent exopolymer particles

E. Ortega-Retuerta1,2,*, U. Passow3,4, C. M. Duarte5, and I. Reche1,2 E. Ortega-Retuerta et al.
  • 1Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Granada 18071, Spain
  • 2Instituto del Agua, Universidad de Granada, Granada 18071, Spain
  • 3Marine Science Institute, University California Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 5Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (CSIC-UIB), Miquel Marqués 21, 07190 Esporles, Illes Balears, Spain
  • *now at: UPMC Univ Paris 06/CNRS, UMR 7621, LOBB, Observatoire Océanologique, 66651 Banyuls Sur Mer, France

Abstract. Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) are the most ubiquitous gel particles in the ocean and form abiotically from dissolved precursors. Although these particles can accumulate at the ocean surface, being thus exposed to intense sunlight, the role of solar radiation for the assembly and degradation of TEP is unknown. In this study, we experimentally determined the effects of visible and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation on (1) TEP degradation (photolysis experiments), (2) TEP assembly from dissolved polymers (photoinhibition experiments) and (3) TEP release by microorganisms. Solar radiation, particularly in the UVB range, caused significant TEP photolysis, with loss rates from 27 to 34% per day. Dissolved polysaccharides did not increase in parallel. No TEP were formed under UVB, visible or dark conditions, indicating that light does not promote TEP assembly. UVB radiation enhanced TEP release by microorganisms, possibly due to cell deaths, or as a protective measure. Increases in UVB may lead to enhanced TEP photolysis in the ocean, with further consequences for TEP dynamics and, ultimately, sea-air gas exchange.

Final-revised paper