Transference of atmospheric hydroxyl radical to the ocean surface induces high phytoplankton cell death

Moira Llabrés*, Jordi Dachs, Susana Agustí

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Hydroxyl radical (OH), the main atmospheric oxidant at the global scale, is believed to play an important role in the dynamics of dissolved organic matter in the sea. Herein, we provide evidence, on the basis of seven experiments performed in contrasting ecosystems (subtropical NE Atlantic and Antarctic waters), of high fluxes of atmospheric OH into the surface oceanic layer, particularly during afternoon events. The experiments demonstrated a tight negative relationship between phytoplankton abundance and the concentration of OH in surface seawater, with acute cell death during afternoon atmospheric OH influx events. The effect of OH radical was higher for picophytoplankton organisms, with Prochlorococcus showing the highest decay rate and the shortest half-life among the phytoplankton populations habiting the ocean surface layers. Our results provide evidence for a high toxicity of atmospheric-derived OH radical to phytoplankton of the surface layer of the ocean. In the atmosphere OH radical is mainly produced by a reaction initiated by UV photolysis of ozone. Once produced in the atmosphere, a fraction is transferred to the surface layer of the ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1473-1479
Number of pages7
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Transference of atmospheric hydroxyl radical to the ocean surface induces high phytoplankton cell death'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this