Rapid biologically mediated oxygen isotope exchange between water and phosphate

Adina Paytan, Yehoshua Kolodny, Amir Neori, Boaz Luz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to better constrain the rate of oxygen isotope exchange between water and phosphate via biochemical reactions a set of controlled experiments were conducted in 1988 at the Aquaculture Plant in Elat, Israel. Different species of algae and other organisms were grown in seawater tanks under controlled conditions, and the water temperature and oxygen isotopic composition (δ18Ow) were monitored. The oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate (δ18Op) in the organisms' food source, tissues, and the δ18Op of dissolved inorganic phosphate (DIP) were measured at different stages of the experiments. Results indicate that intracellular oxygen isotope exchange between phosphorus compounds and water is very rapid and occurs at all levels of the food chain. Through these reactions the soft tissue δ18Op values become 23-26‰ higher than δ18Ow, and δ18Op values of DIP become ∼20‰ higher than δ18Ow. No correlation between δ18Op values and either temperature or P concentrations in these experiments was observed. Our data imply that biogenic recycling and intracellular phosphorus turnover, which involves kinetic fractionation effects, are the major parameters controlling the δ18Op values of P compounds dissolved in aquatic systems. This information is fundamental to any application of δ18Op of dissolved organic or inorganic phosphate to quantify the dynamics of phosphorus cycling in aquatic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-1-13-8
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Nutrient cycling
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Phosphate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid biologically mediated oxygen isotope exchange between water and phosphate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this