The role of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the cycling of trace elements
The aim of this study was to investigate the role of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica on the cycling of a wide set of trace elements (Ag, As, Ba, Bi, Cd, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Fe, Ga, Li, Mn, Ni, Pb, Rb, Sr, Tl, V and Zn). We measured the concentration of these trace elements in different compartments of P. oceanica (leaves, rhizomes, roots and epiphytes) in a non-polluted seagrass meadow representative of the Mediterranean and calculated the annual budget from a mass balance. We provide novel data on accumulation dynamics of many trace elements in P. oceanica compartments and demonstrate that trace element accumulation patterns are mainly determined by plant compartment rather than by temporal variability. Epiphytes were the compartment, which showed the greatest concentrations for most trace elements. Thus, they constitute a key compartment when estimating trace element transfer to higher trophic levels by P. oceanica. Trace element translocation in P. oceanica seemed to be low and acropetal in most cases. Zn, Cd, Sr and Rb were the trace elements that showed the highest release rate through decomposition of plant detritus, while Cs, Tl and Bi showed the lowest. P. oceanica acts as a sink of potentially toxic trace elements (Ni, Cr, As and Ag), which can be sequestered, decreasing their bioavailability. P. oceanica may have a relevant role in the cycling of trace elements in the Mediterranean.