Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

15N natural abundance in oceanic suspended particulate matter


Particulate organic matter (POM) has a central role in the vertical transport of material in the sea1. In the open ocean, POM is produced in the euphotic layer by phytoplankton and degraded in the aphotic layer during sinking to the sea floor. Isotopic abundance of biophilic elements such as C and N in POM is altered by isotopic fractionations associated with biochemical reactions2. Natural abundances of 13C or 15N thus provide useful information on biochemical behaviour of POM in the sea. We report here the first comprehensive data on the vertical distribution of 15N in suspended POM3 collected at a station in the northeastern Indian Ocean. Also, we discuss how nitrogen isotopic analysis could be used for the identification and quantification of the vertical transport processes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Lal, D. Science 198, 997–1009 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Parker, P. L. & Calder, J. A. in Organic Matter in Natural Waters (ed. Hood, D. W.) 107–127 (Institute of Marine Science, University of Alaska, 1970).

    Google Scholar 

  3. McCave, I. N. Deep-Sea Res. 22, 491–502 (1975).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Williams, P. M. & Gordon, L. I. Deep-Sea Res. 17, 19–27 (1970).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Eadie, B. J. & Jeffrey, L. M. Mar. Chem. 1, 199–209 (1973).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Gordon, D. C. Jr Deep-Sea Res. 24, 257–270 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Taga, N. (ed.) Preliminary Report of the Hakuko Maru Cruise KH-76-5 (Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, in the press).

  8. Wada, E., Tsuji, T., Saino, T. & Hattori, A. Analyt. Biochem. 80, 312–318 (1977).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Redfield, A. C., Ketchum, B. H. & Richards, F. A. in The Sea Vol. 2 (ed. Hill, M. N.) 26–77 (Interscience, New York, 1963).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Wada, E., Kadonaga, T. & Matsuo, S. Geochem. J. 9, 139–148 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Wada, E. in Isotope Marine Chemistry (eds Goldberg, E. D. & Horibe, Y.) (Uchida-Rokakuho, Tokyo, in the press).

  12. Goering, J. J., Wallen, D. D. & Nauman, R. M. Limnol. Oceanogr. 15, 789–796 (1970).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Wada, E. & Hattori, A. Geomicrobiol. J. 1, 85–101 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Cline, J. D. & Kaplan, I. R. Mar. Chem. 3, 271–299 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Saino, T. thesis, Univ. Tokyo (1977).

  16. Wada, E. & Hattori, A. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 40, 249–251 (1976).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Bishop, J. K. B., Edmond, J. M., Ketten, D. R., Bacon, M. P. & Silker, W. B. Deep-Sea Res. 24, 511–548 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Wiebe, P. H., Boyd, S. H. & Winget, C. J. mar. Res. 34, 341–354 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  19. Knauer, G. A., Martin, J. H. & Bluland, K. W. Deep-Sea Res. 26 A, 97–108 (1979).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Peters, K. E., Sweeney, R. E. & Kaplan, I. R. Limnol. Oceanogr. 23, 598–604 (1978).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Saino, T., Hattori, A. 15N natural abundance in oceanic suspended particulate matter. Nature 283, 752–754 (1980).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing