INT reduction is a valid proxy for eukaryotic plankton respiration despite the inherent toxicity of INT and differences in cell wall structure

E. Elena García-Martín, Isabel Seguro, Carol Robinson

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The reduction of 2-para (iodophenyl)-3(nitrophenyl)-5(phenyl) tetrazolium chloride (INT) is increasingly being used as an indirect method to measure plankton respiration. Its greater sensitivity and shorter incubation time compared to the standard method of measuring the decrease in dissolved oxygen concentration, allows the determination of total and size-fractionated plankton respiration with higher precision and temporal resolution. However, there are still concerns as to the method’s applicability due to the toxicity of INT and the potential differential effect of plankton cell wall composition on the diffusion of INT into the cell, and therefore on the rate of INT reduction. Working with cultures of 5 marine plankton (Thalassiosira pseudonana CCMP1080/5, Emiliania huxleyi RCC1217, Pleurochrysis carterae PLY-406, Scrippsiella sp. RCC1720 and Oxyrrhis marina CCMP1133/5) which have different cell wall compositions (silica frustule, presence/absence of calcite and cellulose plates), we demonstrate that INT does not have a toxic effect on oxygen consumption at short incubation times. There was no difference in the oxygen consumption of a culture to which INT had been added and that of a replicate culture without INT, for periods of time ranging from 1 to 7 hours. For four of the cultures (T. pseudonana CCMP1080/5, P. carterae PLY-406, E. huxleyi RCC1217, and O. marina CCMP1133/5) the log of the rates of dissolved oxygen consumption were linearly related to the log of the rates of INT reduction, and there was no significant difference between the regression lines for each culture (ANCOVA test, F = 1.696, df = 3, p = 0.18). Thus, INT reduction is not affected by the structure of the plankton cell wall and a single INT reduction to oxygen consumption conversion equation is appropriate for this range of eukaryotic plankton. These results further support the use of the INT technique as a valid proxy for marine plankton respiration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225954
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019

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