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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 63(11)

Hydrogen sulfide intrusion in seagrasses from Shark Bay, Western Australia

Marion L. Cambridge A D , Matthew W. Fraser A , Marianne Holmer B , John Kuo C and Gary A. Kendrick A

A School of Plant Biology and The UWA Oceans Institute, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
B Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark.
C Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: marion.cambridge@uwa.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(11) 1027-1038 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12022
Submitted: 26 January 2012  Accepted: 21 June 2012   Published: 26 November 2012


 
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Abstract

Sulfides in sediments and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) intrusion in plant tissues were investigated for six species of seagrass in Shark Bay, Western Australia, at two sites with elevated salinities of 42 and 45 psu. H2S intrusion ranged from <20% to 100% in roots and rhizomes, indicating a high degree of sulfide intrusion in some cases, although this did not vary consistently between larger, long-lived species and smaller, less persistent species. There were significant differences in accumulation of total sulfur (TS) among species. Anatomy of rhizomes and roots showed species-specific differences in aerenchyma, the air channels that allow oxygen to diffuse down to the roots and sediments, and tissues with thickened cell walls that could present a barrier to diffusion of H2S, suggesting that morphology may influence sulfide intrusion and sulfur accumulation. Sulfide concentrations in seagrass sediments were far lower in Shark Bay than in Florida Bay, a subtropical embayment where sulfide toxicity has been implicated in seagrass dieback. Despite significant H2S intrusion into tissues of some Shark Bay seagrasses, there was no evidence of any deleterious effects in the current conditions.

Additional keywords: δ34S, hypersalinity, H2S, sulfide pools, sulfur accumulation.


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