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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 11(3)

The degradation of arsenoribosides from Ecklonia radiata tissues decomposed in natural and microbially manipulated microcosms

Elliott G. Duncan A C D, William A. Maher A, Simon D. Foster A, Frank Krikowa A and Katarina M. Mikac B

A Ecochemistry Laboratory, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, University Drive, Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia.
B Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.
C Present address, CSIRO Plant Industry, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences, Underwood Avenue, Floreat, WA 6014, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: elliott.duncan@csiro.au.

Environmental Chemistry 11(3) 289-300 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN13155
Submitted: 19 August 2013  Accepted: 30 January 2014   Published: 5 June 2014

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Environmental context. Arsenoribosides are the major arsenic species in marine macro-algae, yet inorganic arsenic is the major arsenic species found in seawater. We investigated the degradation of arsenoribosides associated with Ecklonia radiata by the use of microcosms containing both natural and autoclaved seawater and sand. The decomposition and persistence of arsenic species was linked to the use of autoclaved seawater and sand, which suggests that arsenoriboside degradation is governed by the microbial composition of microenvironments within marine systems.

Abstract. We investigated the influence of microbial communities on the degradation of arsenoribosides from E. radiata tissues decomposing in sand and seawater-based microcosms. During the first 30 days, arsenic was released from decomposing E. radiata tissues into seawater and sand porewaters in all microcosms. In microcosms containing autoclaved seawater and autoclaved sand, arsenic was shown to persist in soluble forms at concentrations (9–18 µg per microcosm) far higher than those present initially (~3 µg per microcosm). Arsenoribosides were lost from decomposing E. radiata tissues in all microcosms with previously established arsenoriboside degradation products, such as thio-arsenic species, dimethylarsinoylethanol (DMAE), dimethylarsenate (DMA) and arsenate (AsV) observed in all microcosms. DMAE and DMA persisted in the seawater and sand porewaters of microcosms containing autoclaved seawater and autoclaved sand. This suggests that the degradation step from arsenoribosides → DMAE occurs on algal surfaces, whereas the step from DMAE → AsV occurs predominantly in the water-column or sand–sediments. This study also demonstrates that disruptions to microbial connectivity (defined as the ability of microbes to recolonise vacant habitats) result in alterations to arsenic cycling. Thus, the re-cycling of arsenoribosides released from marine macro-algae is driven by microbial complexity plus microbial connectivity rather than species diversity as such, as previously assumed.

Additional keywords: algal decomposition, arsenic cycling, macro-algae, microbial ecology.


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