Effect of photosynthetic light dosage on carbon isotope composition in the coral skeleton: Long-term culture of Porites spp

Tamano Omata, Atsushi Suzuki, Takanori Sato, Kayo Minoshima, Eriko Nomaru, Akio Murakami, Shohei Murayama, Hodaka Kawahata, Tadashi Maruyama

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Whereas the oxygen isotope ratio of the coral skeleton is used for reconstruction of past information on seawater, the carbon isotope ratio is considered a proxy for physiological processes, principally photosynthesis and respiration. However, the fractionation of carbon isotopes in biogenic carbonate such as coral skeleton is still unclear. We conducted a long-term culture experiment of Porites spp. corals at different light dosages (light intensity, 100, 300, or 500 μmol m-2 s-1; daily light period, 10 or 12 h) at 25 ± 0.6°C to examine the contribution of photosynthetic activity to skeletal carbon isotope composition. Corals were grown in sand-filtered seawater and not fed; thus, they subsisted from photosynthesis of symbiotic algae. As the daily dose of photosynthetically active radiation increased, the rate of annual extension also increased. Mean isotope compositions shifted; the carbon isotope compositions (δ13C) became heavier and the oxygen isotope compositions (δ18O) became lighter at higher radiation dose. Skeletal δ18O decrease coincided with increasing skeletal growth rate, indicating the influence of so-called kinetic isotope effects. The observed δ13C increase should be subject to both kinetic and metabolic isotope effects, with the latter reflecting skeletal δ13C enrichment due to photosynthesis by symbiotic algae. Using a vector approach in the δ13C-δ18O plane, we discriminated between kinetic and metabolic isotope effects on δ13C. The calculated δ13C changes from metabolic isotope effects were light dose dependent. The δ13C fractionation curve related to metabolic isotope effects is very similar to the photosynthesis-irradiance curve, indicating the direct contribution of photosynthetic activity to metabolic isotope effects. In contrast, δ13C fractionation related to kinetic isotope effects gradually increased as the growth rate increased. Our experiment demonstrated that the kinetic and metabolic isotope effects in coral skeleton were successfully differentiated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberG02014
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun 28
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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