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.

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Institutions Share
Deakin University, Australia 0.57
South China Sea Institute of Oceanology (SCSIO), CAS, China 0.33
University of Virginia (UVA), United States of America (USA) 0.10