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BROADGATE, W.J., MALIN, G., KÜPPER, F.C., THOMPSON, A. & LISS, P.S. 2004. Isoprene and other non-methane hydrocarbons from seaweeds: a source of reactive hydrocarbons to the atmosphere. Marine Chemistry 88(1-2): 61-73. doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2004.02.002.


Abstract

 

Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) are produced naturally in the ocean and by terrestrial vegetation. Owing to its high reactivity and flux, isoprene (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene) is important in controlling the balance of atmospheric oxidants, and altering air quality on both local and global scales. Here we show, for the first time, that macroalgae (seaweeds) emit isoprene and a number of other non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs). We observed NMHC concentrations in rockpools containing macroalgae and estimated fluxes to the atmosphere over a full diurnal cycle. Emissions at our temperate coastal site (Mace Head, Ireland) in autumn are intermediate in magnitude between terrestrial and ocean fluxes (on a unit area basis), and may contribute significant concentrations to the local atmosphere. We also carried out a series of controlled laboratory experiments focusing on isoprene, in natural and artificial light, and under different temperature conditions involving red (Chondrus crispus, Asparagopsis armata), green (Ulva intestinalis, formerly known as Enteromorpha intestinalis) and brown (Laminaria digitata, Ascophyllum nodosum, Pelvetia canaliculata, Fucus vesiculosus, Fucus serratus, Halidrys siliquosa and Laminaria saccharina) macroalgae commonly found on the west coast of Ireland. We observed NMHC emissions from all the algae investigated and emissions were dominated by alkenes. Production is species-dependent, temperature-dependent and related to light availability. We discuss our observations in the context of what is known about the production of isoprene and ethene in higher plants.

 

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