Author(s): Tiffany Moisan
Several studies have suggested that phytoplankton play a role in the iodine cycle. Using a short-term incubation technique for determining the uptake of iodate by phytoplankton, cultures of Thalassiosira oceanica Hasle, Skeletonema costatum (Greville) Cleve, Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay and Mohler, and Dunaliella tertiolecta Butcher were found to be capable of assimilating iodate at rates ranging from 0.003 to 0.24 nmol IO3−·μg chlorophyll a−1·h−1. The kinetics for the uptake of iodate can be modeled, and the similarity between the model and experimental results suggests that there is a steady state between iodate uptake and release of dissolved iodine from the cells, presumably in the form of iodide. Two experiments were conducted in the Sand Shoal Inlet of the Cobb Bay estuary (37°15′N, 75°50′W). The uptake of iodate was 0.26 and 0.08 nmol IO3−·μg chlorophyll a−1·h−1 during high and low tide, respectively. Using field estimates based on measured levels of iodate in the estuary, we estimate that phytoplankton can take up as much as 3% of the ambient pool of iodate on a daily basis and the entire pool in about 1 month. Thus, phytoplankton can be a significant component of the global iodine cycle by mediating changes in the speciation of iodine in the marine environment.