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Urea uptake by the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata

Abstract : Urea can be one of the major sources of nitrogen for phytoplankton, but little is known about its importance for corals. Experiments were therefore designed to assess the uptake rates of urea by the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata; 15N-urea was used to follow the incorporation of nitrogen into the zooxanthellae and animal tissue. The uptake kinetics of urea in the tissue of S. pistillata showed that there is a concentration-dependent uptake of urea. The transport of urea was composed of a linear component (diffusion) at concentrations higher than 6 Amol N-urea l 1 and an active carrier-mediated component, at lower concentrations. The value of the carrier affinity (Km=1.05 Amol urea l 1) indicates a good adaptation of the corals to low levels of urea in seawater. At the in situ concentration of ca. 0.2 Amol N-urea l 1, the uptake rate was equal to 0.1 nmol N h 1 cm 2. Urea uptake was at least four times higher in the animal than in the algal fraction, and five times higher when corals were incubated in the light than in the dark. These results could be explained by the involvement of urea in the calcification process, which is also enhanced by light. Comparison of urea uptake rates with nitrate or ammonium uptake rates for the same S. pistillata species, at in situ concentrations, showed that urea is preferred to nitrate and may therefore be an important source of nitrogen for scleractinian corals. D 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 10:16:00 AM
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Renaud Grover, Jean-François Maguer, Denis Allemand, Christine Ferrier-Pagès. Urea uptake by the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Elsevier, 2006, 332, pp.216- 225. ⟨10.1016/j.jembe.2005.11.020⟩. ⟨hal-00633679⟩

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