Degradation and mineralization of coral mucus in reef environments

Wild, Christian, Rasheed, Mohammed, Werner, Ursula, Franke, Ulrich, Johnstone, Ron and Huettel, Markus (2004) Degradation and mineralization of coral mucus in reef environments. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 267 2004: 159-171. doi:10.3354/meps267159

Author Wild, Christian
Rasheed, Mohammed
Werner, Ursula
Franke, Ulrich
Johnstone, Ron
Huettel, Markus
Title Degradation and mineralization of coral mucus in reef environments
Journal name Marine Ecology - Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2004-02-19
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps267159
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 267
Issue 2004
Start page 159
End page 171
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research Science Centre
Language eng
Formatted abstract
With in situ and laboratory chamber incubations we demonstrate that coral mucus, an important component of particulate organic matter in reef ecosystems, is a valuable substrate for microbial communities in the water column and sandy sediments of coral reefs. The addition of coral mucus to the water of benthic chambers placed on lagoon sands in the coral cay Heron Island, Australia, resulted in a rapid and significant increase in both O2 consumption and DIC production in the chambers. The permeable coral sands permitted the transport of mucus into the sediment with interfacial water flows, resulting in the mucus being mainly (>90%) degraded in the sediment and not in the water column of the chambers. A low ratio of 0.48 (in situ) to 0.64 (laboratory) for O2 consumption/DIC production after the addition of coral mucus, and high sulfate reduction rates (SRR) in natural sediments which were exposed to coral mucus, suggest a large contribution of anaerobic processes to the degradation of coral mucus. Oxygen penetrated less than 5 mm deep into these sediments. The microbial reaction to mucus addition was rapid, with a calculated in situ C turnover rate ranging from 7 to 18% h–1. The degradation of coral mucus showed a dependency on the permeability of the carbonate sediments, with faster degradation and remineralization in coarse sands. This indicates the importance of permeable reef sediments for the trapping and degradation of organic matter. We suggest that coral mucus may have a function as a carrier of energy to the benthic microbial consumers.
© Inter-Research 2004
Keyword Marine ecology
Coral mucus
Permeable carbonate sands
O2 consumption
DIC production
C turnover
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Tue, 03 Feb 2009, 16:12:54 EST by Ms Karen Naughton on behalf of Advanced Water Management Centre