EGU24-17441, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Toward using δ2H values for investigating marine mixotrophy

Marc-Andre Cormier1, Jean-Baptiste Berard2, Daniel Nelson3, Kevin Flynn4, Richard Lampitt5, and Gael Bougaran2
Marc-Andre Cormier et al.
  • 1University of Oxford, Earth Sciences, Oxford, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (
  • 2IFREMER, Physiology and Biotechnology of Algae (PBA), Laboratory, rue de l’Ile d’Yeu, BP 21105, Nantes Cedex 3, 44311 France
  • 3Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
  • 4Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
  • 5Ocean Biogeosciences, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK

Hydrogen isotope ratios (δ2H) measured on lipids extracted from aquatic and terrestrial organisms are widely applied for studying past hydro-climatic conditions. A growing body of evidence suggests that δ2H values of lipids integrate not only climatic, but also metabolic information. Metabolic effects hinder the reconstruction of climatic conditions based on δ2H values from archives and urges for a better understanding of the key drivers of δ2H values in organic compounds. Once disentangled, such non-climatic information in δ2H values may become key for investigating misunderstood eco-physiological behaviours. One such behaviour is marine mixotrophy.

While science requires tools to measure the contributions of phototrophic and heterotrophic growth in plankton, my colleagues and I have already shown that lipid δ2H values are uniquely sensitive to the expression of heterotrophy relative to photosynthesis in plants. This presentation will discuss groundwork experiments performed with chlorophytes and dinoflagellates exploring whether δ2H values of diverse compounds produced by protists are similarly sensitive to their central metabolic pathway. New δ2H analyses performed on fatty acids, phytols and sterols from these experiments, using an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) coupled to a gas chromatograph (GC), will be discussed. Our data suggest that lipids δ2H values are indeed sensitive to the level of heterotrophic growth in diverse protists.

If this relation can be confirmed and calibrated, compound specific H isotope analyses could provide a powerful means to study the role of mixotrophy on the global carbon cycle and the occurrences of HABs.

How to cite: Cormier, M.-A., Berard, J.-B., Nelson, D., Flynn, K., Lampitt, R., and Bougaran, G.: Toward using δ2H values for investigating marine mixotrophy, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17441,, 2024.