Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

DMS and DMSP in mucus ropes, coral mucus, surface films and sediment pore waters from coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef

Andrew D. Broadbent A and Graham B. Jones A B C
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A Marine Chemistry Group, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B Centre for Coastal Management, School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 55(8) 849-855
Submitted: 9 June 2004  Accepted: 27 October 2004   Published: 16 November 2004


Concentrations of dimethylsulphide (DMS) and its precursor compound dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), two sulphur compounds that are involved in the formation of clouds, were measured for mucus ropes, coral mucus, surface films and sediment pore waters collected from three coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The concentrations of DMS (61–18 665 nm) and DMSP (1978–54 381 nm) measured in mucus rope samples are the highest yet reported in the marine environment. The values exceed concentrations of DMS and DMSP reported from highly productive polar waters and sea ice algal communities. Concentrations of DMSP in coral mucus ranged from 1226 to 25 443 nm, with mucus from Acropora formosa containing the highest levels of DMSP. Dimethylsulphide and DMSP in surface microlayer samples from three coral reefs were two to four times subsurface (0.5 m) concentrations. In coral-reef sediment pore waters, concentrations of DMS and DMSP were substantially higher than water-column concentrations, suggesting that coral sediments may be a significant source of these two compounds to reef waters. Overall, the results strongly suggest that coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef are significant sources of these two sulphur substances.

Extra keywords: dimethylsulphide, dimethylsulphoniopropionate.


The authors wish to thank Dr James Udy for providing the sediment sippers used in this study. Dr Mark Curran is thanked for his assistance with the gas chromatography work. Dr Andy Stevens is thanked for help with fieldwork at One Tree Reef. This work was supported by grants to GBJ from the Commonwealth Department of Tourism (National Ecotourism Baseline Studies and Monitoring Program) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.


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