Fatty acid composition of organic detritus from Spartina alterniflora

Document Type


Date of Original Version



The fatty acid composition and concentration of the marsh grass Spartina alterniflora were determined monthly (January to December, 1971) on samples of stems and leaves collected from Bissel Cove, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Seasonal differences were found in both composition and concentration. The fatty acids present in suspended organic matter collected at the mouth of Bissel Cove during ebb and flood tide for the same period have also been analyzed. Laboratory model studies involving the formation of suspended organic matter by the decomposition of S. alterniflora have been investigated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, using both organic solvent-extracted and non-extracted grass. Field model studies were also conducted on marsh grass decomposing in Bissel Cove, using both extracted and non-extracted grass. The fatty acid composition and concentration of suspended organic matter formed in the various model studies were similar to those found in the natural material and differed markedly from that of S. alterniflora. The total fatty acid concentration and the branched chain 15-carbon acids of both natural and model suspended matter gave higher values than those found in S. alterniflora. These branched chain acids appear to be the result of microbial activity and their high levels in the suspended organic matter, together with the fatty acid concentrations of the model studies using extracted marsh grass, indicate that micro-organisms are very important in the formation of the natural organic detritus. © 1973.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science