Nature communications

Direct contribution of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum to lime mud production.

PMID 24848374


Seagrass beds contribute to oceanic carbonate lime mud production by providing a habitat for a wide variety of calcifying organisms and acting as efficient sediment traps. Here we provide evidence for the direct implication of Thalassia testudinum in the precipitation of aragonite needles. The crystals are located internally in the cell walls, and as external deposits on the blade, and are similar in size and shape to the aragonite needles reported for modern tropical carbonate factories. Seagrass calcification is a biological, light-enhanced process controlled by the leaf, and estimates of seagrass annual carbonate production in a Caribbean reef lagoon are as significant as values reported for Halimeda incrassata. Thus, we conclude that seagrass calcification is another biological source for the aragonite lime mud deposits found in tropical banks, and that tropical seagrass habitats may play a more important role in the oceanic carbon cycle than previously considered.