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  1. Abstract

    Microbial associations that result in phytoplankton mortality are important for carbon transport in the ocean. This includes parasitism, which in microbial food webs is dominated by the marine alveolate group, Syndiniales. Parasites are expected to contribute to carbon recycling via host lysis; however, knowledge on host dynamics and correlation to carbon export remain unclear and limit the inclusion of parasitism in biogeochemical models. We analyzed a 4-year 18S rRNA gene metabarcoding dataset (2016–19), performing network analysis for 12 discrete depths (1–1000 m) to determine Syndiniales–host associations in the seasonally oligotrophic Sargasso Sea. Analogous water column and sediment trap data were included to define environmental drivers of Syndiniales and their correlation with particulate carbon flux (150 m). Syndiniales accounted for 48–74% of network edges, most often associated with Dinophyceae and Arthropoda (mainly copepods) at the surface and Rhizaria (Polycystinea, Acantharea, and RAD-B) in the aphotic zone. Syndiniales were the only eukaryote group to be significantly (and negatively) correlated with particulate carbon flux, indicating their contribution to flux attenuation via remineralization. Examination of Syndiniales amplicons revealed a range of depth patterns, including specific ecological niches and vertical connection among a subset (19%) of the community, the latter implying sinking of parasites (infected hosts or spores) on particles. Our findings elevate the critical role of Syndiniales in marine microbial systems and reveal their potential use as biomarkers for carbon export.

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  2. Abstract

    Coral bleaching is a well-documented and increasingly widespread phenomenon in reefs across the globe, yet there has been relatively little research on the implications for reef water column microbiology and biogeochemistry. A mesocosm heating experiment and bottle incubation compared how unbleached and bleached corals alter dissolved organic matter (DOM) exudation in response to thermal stress and subsequent effects on microbial growth and community structure in the water column. Thermal stress of healthy corals tripled DOM flux relative to ambient corals. DOM exudates from stressed corals (heated and/or previously bleached) were compositionally distinct from healthy corals and significantly increased growth of bacterioplankton, enriching copiotrophs and putative pathogens. Together these results demonstrate how the impacts of both short-term thermal stress and long-term bleaching may extend into the water column, with altered coral DOM exudation driving microbial feedbacks that influence how coral reefs respond to and recover from mass bleaching events.

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  3. Abstract

    Microbial community dynamics on sinking particles control the amount of carbon that reaches the deep ocean and the length of time that carbon is stored, with potentially profound impacts on Earth’s climate. A mechanistic understanding of the controls on sinking particle distributions has been hindered by limited depth- and time-resolved sampling and methods that cannot distinguish individual particles. Here, we analyze microbial communities on nearly 400 individual sinking particles in conjunction with more conventional composite particle samples to determine how particle colonization and community assembly might control carbon sequestration in the deep ocean. We observed community succession with corresponding changes in microbial metabolic potential on the larger sinking particles transporting a significant fraction of carbon to the deep sea. Microbial community richness decreased as particles aged and sank; however, richness increased with particle size and the attenuation of carbon export. This suggests that the theory of island biogeography applies to sinking marine particles. Changes in POC flux attenuation with time and microbial community composition with depth were reproduced in a mechanistic ecosystem model that reflected a range of POC labilities and microbial growth rates. Our results highlight microbial community dynamics and processes on individual sinking particles, the isolation of which is necessary to improve mechanistic models of ocean carbon uptake.

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  4. This document describes best practices for analysis of dissolved organic matter (dissolved organic carbon and total dissolved nitrogen) in seawater samples. Included are SOPs for sample collection and storage, details for laboratory analysis using high temperature combustion analysis on Shimadzu TOC analyzers, and suggestions for best practices in quality control and quality assurance. Although written specifically for GO-SHIP oceanographic community practices, many aspects of sample collection and processing are relevant to DOM determination across oceanic regimes and this document aims to provide updated methodology to the wider marine community. 
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  5. Abstract

    Nitrifying microorganisms, including ammonia‐oxidizing archaea, ammonia‐oxidizing bacteria, and nitrite‐oxidizing bacteria, are the most abundant chemoautotrophs in the ocean and play an important role in the global carbon cycle by fixing dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) into biomass. The release of organic compounds by these microbes is not well quantified, but may represent an as‐yet unaccounted source of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) available to marine food webs. Here, we provide measurements of cellular carbon and nitrogen quotas, DIC fixation yields and DOC release of 10 phylogenetically diverse marine nitrifiers. All investigated strains released DOC during growth, representing on average 5–15% of the fixed DIC. Changes in substrate concentration and temperature did not affect the proportion of fixed DIC released as DOC, but release rates varied between closely related species. Our results also indicate previous studies may have underestimated DIC fixation yields of marine nitrite oxidizers due to partial decoupling of nitrite oxidation from CO2fixation, and due to lower observed yields in artificial compared to natural seawater medium. The results of this study provide critical values for biogeochemical models of the global carbon cycle, and help to further constrain the implications of nitrification‐fueled chemoautotrophy for marine food‐web functioning and the biological sequestration of carbon in the ocean.

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  6. null (Ed.)
    The oceans teem with heterotrophic bacterioplankton that play an appreciable role in the uptake of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) derived from phytoplankton net primary production (NPP). As such, bacterioplankton carbon demand (BCD), or gross heterotrophic production, represents a major carbon pathway that influences the seasonal accumulation of DOC in the surface ocean and, subsequently, the potential vertical or horizontal export of seasonally accumulated DOC. Here, we examine the contributions of bacterioplankton and DOM to ecological and biogeochemical carbon flow pathways, including those of the microbial loop and the biological carbon pump, in the Western North Atlantic Ocean (∼39–54°N along ∼40°W) over a composite annual phytoplankton bloom cycle. Combining field observations with data collected from corresponding DOC remineralization experiments, we estimate the efficiency at which bacterioplankton utilize DOC, demonstrate seasonality in the fraction of NPP that supports BCD, and provide evidence for shifts in the bioavailability and persistence of the seasonally accumulated DOC. Our results indicate that while the portion of DOC flux through bacterioplankton relative to NPP increased as seasons transitioned from high to low productivity, there was a fraction of the DOM production that accumulated and persisted. This persistent DOM is potentially an important pool of organic carbon available for export to the deep ocean via convective mixing, thus representing an important export term of the biological carbon pump. 
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  7. Metabolites exuded by primary producers comprise a significant fraction of marine dissolved organic matter, a poorly characterized, heterogenous mixture that dictates microbial metabolism and biogeochemical cycling. We present a foundational untargeted molecular analysis of exudates released by coral reef primary producers using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry to examine compounds produced by two coral species and three types of algae (macroalgae, turfing microalgae, and crustose coralline algae [CCA]) from Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Of 10,568 distinct ion features recovered from reef and mesocosm waters, 1,667 were exuded by producers; the majority (86%) were organism specific, reflecting a clear divide between coral and algal exometabolomes. These data allowed us to examine two tenets of coral reef ecology at the molecular level. First, stoichiometric analyses show a significantly reduced nominal carbon oxidation state of algal exometabolites than coral exometabolites, illustrating one ecological mechanism by which algal phase shifts engender fundamental changes in the biogeochemistry of reef biomes. Second, coral and algal exometabolomes were differentially enriched in organic macronutrients, revealing a mechanism for reef nutrient-recycling. Coral exometabolomes were enriched in diverse sources of nitrogen and phosphorus, including tyrosine derivatives, oleoyl-taurines, and acyl carnitines. Exometabolites of CCA and turf algae were significantly enriched in nitrogen with distinct signals from polyketide macrolactams and alkaloids, respectively. Macroalgal exometabolomes were dominated by nonnitrogenous compounds, including diverse prenol lipids and steroids. This study provides molecular-level insights into biogeochemical cycling on coral reefs and illustrates how changing benthic cover on reefs influences reef water chemistry with implications for microbial metabolism. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Planktonic communities constitute the basis of life in marine environments and have profound impacts in geochemical cycles. In the North Atlantic, seasonality drives annual transitions in the ecology of the water column. Phytoplankton bloom annually in spring as a result of these transitions, creating one of the major biological pulses in productivity on earth. The timing and geographical distribution of the spring bloom as well as the resulting biomass accumulation have largely been studied using the global capacity of satellite imaging. However, fine-scale variability in the taxonomic composition, spatial distribution, seasonal shifts, and ecological interactions with heterotrophic bacterioplankton has remained largely uncharacterized. The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) conducted four meridional transects to characterize plankton ecosystems in the context of the annual bloom cycle. Using 16S rRNA gene-based community profiles we analyzed the temporal and spatial variation in plankton communities. Seasonality in phytoplankton and bacterioplankton composition was apparent throughout the water column, with changes dependent on the hydrographic origin. From winter to spring in the subtropic and subpolar subregions, phytoplankton shifted from the predominance of cyanobacteria and picoeukaryotic green algae to diverse photosynthetic eukaryotes. By autumn, the subtropics were dominated by cyanobacteria, while a diverse array of eukaryotes dominated the subpolar subregions. Bacterioplankton were also strongly influenced by geographical subregions. SAR11, the most abundant bacteria in the surface ocean, displayed higher richness in the subtropics than the subpolar subregions. SAR11 subclades were differentially distributed between the two subregions. Subclades Ia.1 and Ia.3 co-occurred in the subpolar subregion, while Ia.1 dominated the subtropics. In the subtropical subregion during the winter, the relative abundance of SAR11 subclades “II” and 1c.1 were elevated in the upper mesopelagic. In the winter, SAR202 subclades generally prevalent in the bathypelagic were also dominant members in the upper mesopelagic zones. Co-varying network analysis confirmed the large-scale geographical organization of the plankton communities and provided insights into the vertical distribution of bacterioplankton. This study represents the most comprehensive survey of microbial profiles in the western North Atlantic to date, revealing stark seasonal differences in composition and richness delimited by the biogeographical distribution of the planktonic communities. 
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