Nitrogenase Activity in Intertidal Sediment Along the Tanzanian Coast, Western Indian Ocean
Nitrogenase activity was determined using the acetylene reduction assay in the littoral areas near Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Mafia with the aim of investigating its spatial and temporal distribution along the Tanzanian coastal line. Ethylene (C2H4) production rates ranged from 0.07 - 13.5 nmol C2H4 cm-2h-1 in Tanga area, 0.30 - 5.43 nmol C2H4 cm-2h-1 in Dar es Salaam and from 0.10 - 6.25 nmol C2H4 cm-2h-1 in Mafia. Significantly higher rates of nitrogenase activity were measured during night-incubated samples compared to daytime incubated samples suggesting that the sediments were mostly composed of non-heterocystous diazotrophic organisms. However, there were no significant differences in rates of nitrogenase activity between the rainy and dry season and between the sandy and muddy beaches. Also, there were no significant differences in nitrogenase activity between the upper, mid and lower littoral zones, and between the three sampling locations, i.e. Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Mafia. A nitrogen fixation rate of 38 mmol N m-2y-1 was estimated. We conclude that diazotrophs contribute a substantial amount of nitrogen input to the Tanzania coastal ecosystems.
Keywords: Nitrogen fixation, Acetylene Reduction Assay, diazotrophs, intertidal sediment, Tanzania
West Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science Vol. 5 (2) 2006: pp. 133-140