Methyl mercury distributions in relation to the presence of nano- and picophytoplankton in an oceanic water column (Ligurian Sea, North-western Mediterranean)

Type Article
Date 2010-10
Language English
Author(s) Heimbuerger Lars-Eric1, 2, 3, Cossa Daniel1, Marty Jean-Claude2, 3, Migon Christophe2, 3, Averty Bernard4, Dufour Aurelie2, 3, Ras Josephine2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Ctr Mediterranee, F-83507 La Seyne Sur Mer, France.
2 : Univ Paris 06, Observ Oceanol, UMR 7093, F-06234 Villefranche Sur Mer, France.
3 : CNRS, INSU, Oceanog Lab, UMR 7093, F-06234 Villefranche Sur Mer, France.
4 : IFREMER, Ctr Nantes, F-44311 Nantes, France.
Source Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta (0016-7037) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2010-10 , Vol. 74 , N. 19 , P. 5549-5559
DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2010.06.036
WOS© Times Cited 131
Abstract Recent findings on the distribution of methylated mercury (MeHgT) in waters have highlighted the importance of organic carbon remineralization on the production of these compounds in the open ocean. Here, we present the first time-series (20 monthly samplings between July 2007 and May 2009) of high-resolution vertical profiles (10-12 depths in a 2350 m water column) of MeHgT distributions in an open ocean environment, the Ligurian Sea (North-western Mediterranean Sea). Concentrations varied within the sub-picomolar range (general mean: 0.30 0.17 pmol L-1, n = 214) with the lowest values at the surface, increasing with depth up to the oxygen minimum zone, and decreasing slowly at greater depth. Concentrations in the surface waters never exceeded 0.15 pmol L-1, while the highest concentrations (up to 0.82 pmol L-1) were associated to the hypoxycline during the autumn bloom. A detailed vertical MeHgT profile reveals a "double-peak" pattern, coincidental with the two microbial layers described by Tanaka and Rassoulzadegan (2002), the so-called "microbial food web" in the euphotic zone (<100 m) and the "microbial loop" in the aphotic zone (>100 m). Temporal variations in the MeHgT abundance and distribution in the water column were linked to seasonality. The highest MeHgT concentrations were found in the oxygen minimum zone during the period of stratification, and coincide with the greatest abundance of nano- and picophytoplankton (cyanobacteria, nanoflagellates, etc.) in the euphotic layer. None of our deep MeHgT measurements (-4 00 m above the sea bottom) revealed a significant sedimentary source of MeHgT. We explored the correlation between MeHgT concentrations and the apparent oxygen utilization, a proxy of organic matter remineralization, over the study period. Results of this study strengthen the hypothesis that net mercury methylation in the open ocean occurs in the water column, is linked to organic matter regeneration, and is promoted by the presence of small-sized nano- and picophytoplankton, that dominate under oligotrophic conditions. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Heimbuerger Lars-Eric, Cossa Daniel, Marty Jean-Claude, Migon Christophe, Averty Bernard, Dufour Aurelie, Ras Josephine (2010). Methyl mercury distributions in relation to the presence of nano- and picophytoplankton in an oceanic water column (Ligurian Sea, North-western Mediterranean). Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 74(19), 5549-5559. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :