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Chemosphere

Do vesicle cells of the red alga Asparagopsis (Falkenbergia stage) play a role in bromocarbon production?


PMID 12738272

Abstract

The Rhodophyceae (red algae) are an established source of volatile halocarbons in the marine environment. Some species in the Bonnemaisoniaceae have been reported to contain large amounts of halogens in structures referred to as vesicle cells, suggesting involvement of these specialised cells in the production of halocarbons. We have investigated the role of vesicle cells in the accumulation and metabolism of bromide in an isolate of the red macroalga Asparagopsis (Falkenbergia stage), a species known to release bromocarbons. Studies of laboratory-cultivated alga, using light microscopy, revealed a requirement of bromide for both the maintenance and formation of vesicle cells. Incubation of the alga in culture media with bromide concentrations below 64 mgl(-1) (the concentration of Br(-) in seawater) resulted in a decrease in the proportion of vesicle cells to pericentral cells. The abundance of vesicle cells was correlated with bromide concentration below this level. Induction of vesicle cell formation in cultures of Falkenbergia occurred at concentrations as low as 8 mgl(-1), with the abundance of vesicle cells increasing with bromide concentration up to around 100 mgl(-1). Further studies revealed a positive correlation between the abundance of vesicle cells and dibromomethane and bromoform production. Interestingly, however, whilst dibromomethane production was stimulated by the presence of bromide in the culture media, bromoform release remained unaffected suggesting that the two compounds are formed by different mechanisms.

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