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  1. Abstract

    Iron is an essential nutrient for all microorganisms of the marine environment. Iron limitation of primary production has been well documented across a significant portion of the global surface ocean, but much less is known regarding the potential for iron limitation of the marine heterotrophic microbial community. In this work, we characterize the transcriptomic response of the heterotrophic bacterial community to iron additions in the California Current System, an eastern boundary upwelling system, to detect in situ iron stress of heterotrophic bacteria. Changes in gene expression in response to iron availability by heterotrophic bacteria were detected under conditions of high productivity when carbon limitation was relieved but when iron availability remained low. The ratio of particulate organic carbon to dissolved iron emerged as a biogeochemical proxy for iron limitation of heterotrophic bacteria in this system. Iron stress was characterized by high expression levels of iron transport pathways and decreased expression of iron-containing enzymes involved in carbon metabolism, where a majority of the heterotrophic bacterial iron requirement resides. Expression of iron stress biomarkers, as identified in the iron-addition experiments, was also detected insitu. These results suggest iron availability will impact the processing of organic matter by heterotrophic bacteria with potential consequences for the marine biological carbon pump.

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  2. Zirconium (Zr) stable isotopes recently emerged as potential tracers of magmatic processes and, as a result, their behavior in high-temperature environments have been the focus of extensive characterization. In contrast, few studies have focused on Zr behavior and isotopic fractionation in low temperature or aqueous environments. Here, we describe a new analytical routine for highly precise and accurate analysis of Zr isotopes of water samples, using a combination of double-spike and iron co-precipitation methods. To assess the impact of potential systematic biases a series of experiments were conducted on natural and synthetic water samples. Our results show that the spike-to-sample ratio, matrix composition, and high field-strength element (HFSE) concentration have negligible effects on measured seawater Zr isotopic compositions, and that the Fe co-precipitation method used yields accurate and precise Zr isotope data. We thus apply this method to natural seawater samples collected from a water column profile in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, with depths ranging from 5 to 711 m. We find that the natural seawater samples are highly fractionated relative to solid-Earth values and display marked variability in δ94/90Zr as a function of depth, ranging from ∼ +0.650 ‰ near the surface, to + 1.530 ‰ near the profile bottom, with an analytical uncertainty of ± ∼0.045 ‰ (2 SE, external reproducibility). The δ94/90Zr value of seawater is much higher than that of Earth’s mantle and continental crust, which has a δ94/90Zr value near zero, indicating the presence of processes in the hydrosphere capable of inducing large mass-dependent fractionation. Furthermore, the seawater δ94/90Zr value exhibits systematic variations with respect to water depth and salinity, suggesting that Zr isotopic compositions may be sensitive to seawater chemical properties and source highlighting its potential utility as a tracer of biogeochemical processes within the ocean. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  3. Abstract

    Coastal upwelling regions are among the most productive marine ecosystems but may be threatened by amplified ocean acidification. Increased acidification is hypothesized to reduce iron bioavailability for phytoplankton thereby expanding iron limitation and impacting primary production. Here we show from community to molecular levels that phytoplankton in an upwelling region respond to short-term acidification exposure with iron uptake pathways and strategies that reduce cellular iron demand. A combined physiological and multi-omics approach was applied to trace metal clean incubations that introduced 1200 ppm CO2for up to four days.Although variable, molecular-level responses indicate a prioritization of iron uptake pathways that are less hindered by acidification and reductions in iron utilization. Growth, nutrient uptake, and community compositions remained largely unaffected suggesting that these mechanisms may confer short-term resistance to acidification; however, we speculate that cellular iron demand is only temporarily satisfied, and longer-term acidification exposure without increased iron inputs may result in increased iron stress.

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