Macroalgal Blooms Trigger the Breakdown of Seagrass Blue Carbon

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology

Published: 2020-10-26

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03720

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Seaweed blooms are bad news for blue carbon

© Santiago Urquijo/Moment/Getty Images

© Santiago Urquijo/Moment/Getty Images

Blooms of seaweed can hinder the ability of coastal seagrass to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Seagrass meadows act as a carbon sink, locking up carbon from the atmosphere by producing organic matter that takes a long time to biodegrade. But blooms of seaweed, largely caused by high nutrient levels due to artificial sources, can disrupt seagrass growth.

Now, a team of four researchers at Deakin University in Australia and a collaborator in China has found that seaweed blooms reduce seagrass’ ability to sequester carbon. Specifically, they found that high densities of seaweed induced microbes to decompose 20% more seagrass than normal, resulting in roughly double the emission of greenhouse gases.

This mirrors results observed in other systems where adding a source of readily decomposable carbon helps break down more resistant forms of carbon.

Supported content

Institutions Share
Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), Deakin University, Australia 0.57
CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Marine Bio-resources and Ecology (LMB), SCSIO CAS, China 0.17
Institution of South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering, SCSIO CAS, China 0.17
Department of Environmental Sciences (EVSC), UVA, United States of America (USA) 0.10

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