Anti-grazing activity and seasonal variation of dimethylsulfoniopropionate-associated compounds in the invasive alga Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides.
In this study, we present evidence that the invasive alga Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides is chemically defended against grazing by a wound-activated chemical defense involving dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and the products of its cleavage, dimethylsulfide (DMS), and acrylic acid (AA). DMSP in C. fragile ssp. tomentosoides was present throughout the year, but concentrations varied seasonally and were highest in the winter. Intra-thallus variation was neither large, nor consistent over time. High DMSP concentrations were uncommon among northwestern Atlantic macrophytes. Of 26 other species tested, only two, Ulva lactuca and Polysiphonia harveyi contained concentrations comparable to, or higher than, those of C. fragile ssp. tomentosoides. DMS and AA, both individually and together, deterred grazing by the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis at "natural" concentrations. These results suggest that DMS and AA contribute to the avoidance of C. fragile ssp. tomentosoides by S. droebachiensis. As a result, the production of DMSP and its subsequent cleavage, upon injury, may reduce herbivory on C. fragile ssp. tomentosoides and contribute to its success.