A bloom of Dunaliella parva in the Dead Sea in 1992: biological and biogeochemical aspects

Aharon Oren*, Peter Gurevich, David A. Anati, Eugene Barkan, Boaz Luz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


A bloom of the unicellular green alga Dunaliella parva (up to 15 000 cells m1-1) developed in the upper 5 m of the water column of the Dead Sea in May-June 1992. This was the first mass development of Dunaliella observed in the lake since 1980, when another bloom was reported (up to 8800 cells m1-1). For a bloom of Dunaliella to develop in the Dead Sea, two conditions must be fulfilled: the salinity of the upper water layers must become sufficiently low as a result of dilution with rain floods, and phosphate must be available. During the period 1983-1991 the lake was holomictic, hardly any dilution with rainwater occurred, and no Dunaliella cells were observed. Heavy rain floods in the winter of 1991-1992 caused a new stratification, in which the upper 5 m of the water column became diluted to about 70% of their former salinity. Measurements of the isotopic composition of inorganic carbon in the upper water layer during the bloom (δ13C = 5.1‰) indicate a strong fractionation when compared with the estimated -3.4‰ prior to the bloom. The particulate organic carbon formed was highly enriched in light carbon isotopes (δ 13 C = - 13.5‰). The algal bloom rapidly declined during the months June-July, probably as a result of the formation of resting stages, which sank to the bloom. A smaller secondary bloom (up to 1850 cells m1-1) developed between 6 and 10 m depth at the end of the summer. Salinity values at this deep chlorophyll maximum were much beyond those conductive for the growth of Dunaliella, and the factors responsible for the development of this bloom are still unclear.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1995


  • Dead Sea
  • Dunaliella
  • carbon isotopes
  • hypersaline
  • stratification


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