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Different speciation for bromine in brown and red algae, revealed by in vivo X-ray absorption spectroscopic studies


  • This paper is dedicated to the memory of Johanna Fehling (October 25, 1974–February 17, 2011), an enthusiastic student at the Scottish Association for Marine Science and promising young marine scientist, who untimely passed away due to a brain tumor.


Members of various algal lineages are known to be strong producers of atmospherically relevant halogen emissions, that is a consequence of their capability to store and metabolize halogens. This study uses a noninvasive, synchrotron-based technique, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, for addressing in vivo bromine speciation in the brown algae Ectocarpus siliculosus, Ascophyllum nodosum, and Fucus serratus, the red algae Gracilaria dura, G. gracilis, Chondrus crispus, Osmundea pinnatifida, Asparagopsis armata, Polysiphonia elongata, and Corallina officinalis, the diatom Thalassiosira rotula, the dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedrum and a natural phytoplankton sample. The results highlight a diversity of fundamentally different bromine storage modes: while most of the stramenopile representatives and the dinoflagellate store mostly bromide, there is evidence for Br incorporated in nonaromatic hydrocarbons in Thalassiosira. Red algae operate various organic bromine stores – including a possible precursor (by the haloform reaction) for bromoform in Asparagopsis and aromatically bound Br in Polysiphonia and Corallina. Large fractions of the bromine in the red algae G. dura and C. crispus and the brown alga F. serratus are present as Br defects in solid KCl, similar to what was reported earlier for Laminaria parts. These results are discussed according to different defensive strategies that are used within algal taxa to cope with biotic or abiotic stresses.