Distributions of uronic acids and O-methyl sugars in sinking and sedimentary particles in two coastal marine environments

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
By: , and 



Although recent research has indicated that bacteria may contribute an important fraction of biochemical residues in terrestrial and marine environments, it is difficult for geochemists to identify contributions from these ubiquitous and biochemically diverse organisms. Previous studies have suggested uronic acids and O-methyl sugars may be useful indicators of microbial abundance and activity, but have been limited primarily to analyses of a small number of isolated samples. We report here comparative distributions of O-methyl sugars, uronic acids, and aldoses in sediment trap material and sediments from Dabob Bay, WA and nearby Saanich Inlet, BC, where temporal and spatial trends may be used together with well-established patterns in other biochemicals to identify bacterial contributions against the background of other carbohydrate sources.

O-methyl sugars and uronic acids were important contributors to the overall flux and burial of polysaccharide material in Dabob Bay and Saanich Inlet, composing ≤12 wt% of the total carbohydrate yields from sediment trap and sediment samples. O-methyl sugars accounted for an average of 5% of the carbohydrate yields from sediment trap materials and sediments, but were found rarely and only in low abundance in vascular plant tissues, phytoplankton, and kelp. In contrast, uronic acids were abundant products of sediment trap material and sediments, as well as vascular plant tissues, where in some cases they predominated among all carbohydrates. Uronic acid abundance in sediment trap material averaged 3% and ranged to >6% of total carbohydrate yields.

The persistence of total minor sugar yields in water column collections from Dabob Bay throughout the seasonal cycle indicated they had a primary source that was not directly related to plankton bloom cycles nor pulsed inputs of vascular plant remains. Subsurface maxima in total minor sugar yields (and several individual components) within sediment cores from both sites indicate in situ sedimentary sources. Taken together, the observed environmental distributions strongly suggest that the minor sugar abundances in Dabob Bay and Saanich Inlet were controlled by in situ microbial production.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Distributions of uronic acids and O-methyl sugars in sinking and sedimentary particles in two coastal marine environments
Series title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
DOI 10.1016/S0016-7037(99)00075-7
Volume 63
Issue 3-4
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 413
Last page 425
Country Canada, United States
State British Columbia, Washington
Other Geospatial Dabob Bay, Saanich Inlet
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