Application of Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry to Measure Aquatic Gross Primary Production by the 18O In Vitro Method

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Chemistry and Biochemistry


The 18O technique is considered the most direct in vitro method for measuring gross primary production (GPP) in aquatic ecosystems. This method measures the 18O enrichment of the dissolved O2 pool through photosynthesis after spiking a water sample with a tracer amount of 18O‐labeled water (18O‐H2O) and incubating it under natural light conditions. Despite its advantages, the 18O technique has only scarcely been used to measure GPP in the ocean. The lack of 18O‐based primary productivity measurements is most likely due to the technical difficulty associated with sample collection, handling, and processing, and to the need of an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) for sample analysis, which is not available for the majority of research groups. The current procedure also precludes at sea measurements. In this manuscript, we demonstrate that the biological 18O enrichment of dissolved O2, after incubation of seawater enriched with 18O‐H2O, can be precisely measured by shipboard or laboratory‐based membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS). The method was validated in the low‐productivity oligotrophic North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, where the measured GPP ranged from 0.2 to 1.1 μmol O2 L−1 d−1, with an approximate precision for surface waters of ± 0.02 μmol O2 L−1 d−1. This new approach has the advantages of simple water sample handling and analysis, accurate dissolved gas measurements, capability of analysis on board of a ship, and use of relatively inexpensive instrumentation, and therefore has the potential to improve our understanding of primary production in the ocean and other aquatic environments.

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Liminology and Oceanography Methods





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