Senescence as the main driver of iodide release from a diverse range of marine phytoplankton

Helmke Hepach*, Claire Hughes, Karen Hogg, Susannah Collings, Rosie Chance

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reaction between ozone and iodide at the sea surface is now known to be an important part of atmospheric ozone cycling, causing ozone deposition and the release of ozone-depleting reactive iodine to the atmosphere. The importance of this reaction is reflected by its inclusion in chemical transport models (CTMs). Such models depend on accurate sea surface iodide fields, but measurements are spatially and temporally limited. Hence, the ability to predict current and future sea surface iodide fields, i.e. sea surface iodide concentration on a narrow global grid, requires the development of process-based models. These models require a thorough understanding of the key processes that control sea surface iodide. The aim of this study was to explore if there are common features of iodate-to-iodide reduction amongst diverse marine phytoplankton in order to develop models that focus on sea surface iodine and iodine release to the troposphere. In order to achieve this, rates and patterns of changes in inorganic iodine speciation were determined in 10 phytoplankton cultures grown at ambient iodate concentrations. Where possible these data were analysed alongside results from previous studies. Iodate loss and some iodide production were observed in all cultures studied, confirming that this is a widespread feature amongst marine phytoplankton. We found no significant difference in log-phase, cell-normalised iodide production rates between key phytoplankton groups (diatoms, prymnesiophytes including coccolithophores and phaeocystales), suggesting that a phytoplankton functional type (PFT) approach would not be appropriate for building an ocean iodine cycling model. Iodate loss was greater than iodide formation in the majority of the cultures studied, indicating the presence of an as-yet-unidentified "missing iodine" fraction. Iodide yield at the end of the experiment was significantly greater in cultures that had reached a later senescence stage. This suggests that models should incorporate a lag between peak phytoplankton biomass and maximum iodide production and that cell mortality terms in biogeochemical models could be used to parameterise iodide production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24532020
Pages (from-to)2453-2471
Number of pages19
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2020

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