Temporal changes in elemental composition in decomposing filamentous algae (Cladophora glomerata and Pilayella littoralis) determined with PIXE and PIGE

Jan-Olof Lill, S. Salovius-Lauren, L. Harju, Johan Rajander, K-E Saarela, A. Lindroos, S-J Heselius

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    Particle-induced X-ray emission and particle-induced gamma-ray emission spectrometry were successfully applied in a study of the elemental composition of decomposing filamentous algae. Fresh brown (Pilayella littoralis) and green (Cladophora glomerata) algal materials were placed in cages at 4 m depth in a water column of 8 m in the Archipelago Sea, northern Baltic Sea. Every second week decaying algae were sampled from the cages to allow measurements of changes in the elemental compositions. In the study of the elemental losses the concentrations were compensated for the mass reduction. The results show that sulphur, chlorine and partly potassium were lost during decomposition of P. littoralis and C glomerata. Most of the other elements studied were recovered in the remaining algal mass. Special attention was paid to sorption and desorption of elements, including metal binding capacity, in the decaying algal materials. The affinity order of different cations to the two algal species was established by calculation of conditional distribution coefficients, D'(M). For instance for P. littoralis the following series of binding strength (affinity) of cations were obtained: Al > Ti > Fe >> Mn > Ni, Cu > Ba, Cr, Zn >> Rb > K, Sr > Pb >> Ca >> Na > Mg. Notably is that the binding strength of strontium was more than 10 times higher for P. littoralis than for C. glomerata. Due to their high binding capacity and good affinity and selectivity for heavy metal ions these algae have great potential as biological sorbents. Large variations in elemental content during decomposition complicate the use of algae for environmental monitoring. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)646–652
    Number of pages7
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Affinity
    • Decomposition
    • Elemental concentrations
    • Macroalgae
    • PIGE
    • PIXE

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