Revealing hydrogen peroxide as an external stressor in macrophyte-dominated coastal ecosystems

Author(s)
Isla M Twigg, Federico Baltar, Jack R Hall, Christopher D Hepburn
Abstract

Benthic primary producers in coastal ecosystems provide important habitat for marine organisms through the provision of complex 3D habitat. Primary producers produce organic matter, while simultaneously producing reactive oxygen species, including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a driver of oxidative stress. Through their high biomass, productivity and effect on local hydrodynamics, benthic primary producers can potentially increase H2O2 concentrations surrounding the biogenic structures they form. The aim of this study was to identify the potential role of H2O2 produced by benthic primary producers as an external stressor in coastal ecosystems. This was achieved by measuring H2O2 concentrations within sea lettuce blooms (Ulva sp.), giant kelp forests (Macrocystis pyrifera), and seagrass meadows (Zostera muelleri); quantifying H2O2 production rates of these species; and testing heterotrophic bacterial response to relevant H2O2 concentrations. Ulva sp. produced five times more H2O2 than other species. At in situ concentrations, H2O2 inhibited bacterial production and carbon flow through the microbial loop by 75%. This study reveals H2O2 as an additional stressor in bloom-forming Ulva sp. with higher H2O2 production compared to the ecosystem engineers M. pyrifera and Z. muelleri. H2O2 production by benthic primary producers can affect carbon flow through the microbial loop, with the potential to propagate a stress signal up the food web.

Organisation(s)
Functional and Evolutionary Ecology
External organisation(s)
University of Otago
Journal
Oecologia
Volume
193
Pages
583–591
ISSN
0029-8549
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-020-04690-0
Publication date
06-2020
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106021 Marine biology
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/revealing-hydrogen-peroxide-as-an-external-stressor-in-macrophytedominated-coastal-ecosystems(c4cf47cc-f510-4478-9432-63d7a4b2ebd5).html