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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 9, 2023
  2. Abstract The ocean–atmosphere exchange of CO 2 largely depends on the balance between marine microbial photosynthesis and respiration. Despite vast taxonomic and metabolic diversity among marine planktonic bacteria and archaea (prokaryoplankton) 1–3 , their respiration usually is measured in bulk and treated as a ‘black box’ in global biogeochemical models 4 ; this limits the mechanistic understanding of the global carbon cycle. Here, using a technology for integrated phenotype analyses and genomic sequencing of individual microbial cells, we show that cell-specific respiration rates differ by more than 1,000× among prokaryoplankton genera. The majority of respiration was found to be performed by minority members of prokaryoplankton (including the Roseobacter cluster), whereas cells of the most prevalent lineages (including Pelagibacter and SAR86) had extremely low respiration rates. The decoupling of respiration rates from abundance among lineages, elevated counts of proteorhodopsin transcripts in Pelagibacter and SAR86 cells and elevated respiration of SAR86 at night indicate that proteorhodopsin-based phototrophy 3,5–7 probably constitutes an important source of energy to prokaryoplankton and may increase growth efficiency. These findings suggest that the dependence of prokaryoplankton on respiration and remineralization of phytoplankton-derived organic carbon into CO 2 for its energy demands and growth may be lower than commonlymore »assumed and variable among lineages.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 22, 2023
  3. About 20% of the organic carbon produced in the sunlit surface ocean is transported into the ocean’s interior as dissolved, suspended and sinking particles to be mineralized and sequestered as dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), sedimentary particulate organic carbon (POC) or “refractory” dissolved organic carbon (rDOC). Recently, the physical and biological mechanisms associated with the particle pumps have been revisited, suggesting that accepted fluxes might be severely underestimated ( Boyd et al., 2019 ; Buesseler et al., 2020 ). Perhaps even more poorly understood are the mechanisms driving rDOC production and its potential accumulation in the ocean. On the basis of recent conflicting evidence about the relevance of DOC degradation in the deep ocean, we revisit the concept of rDOC in terms of its “refractory” nature in order to understand its role in the global carbon cycle. Here, we address the problem of various definitions and approaches used to characterize rDOC (such as turnover time in relation to the ocean transit time, molecule abundance, chemical composition and structure). We propose that rDOC should be operationally defined. However, we recognize there are multiple ways to operationally define rDOC; thus the main focus for unifying future studies should be to explicitly state howmore »rDOC is being defined and the analytical window used for measuring rDOC, rather than adhering to a single operational definition. We also conclude, based on recent evidence, that the persistence of rDOC is fundamentally dependent on both intrinsic (chemical composition and structure, e.g., molecular properties), and extrinsic properties (amount or external factors, e.g., molecular concentrations, ecosystem properties). Finally, we suggest specific research questions aimed at stimulating research on the nature, dynamics, and role of rDOC in Carbon sequestration now and in future scenarios of climate change.« less
  4. Abstract

    Throughout coastal Antarctica, ice shelves separate oceanic waters from sunlight by hundreds of meters of ice. Historical studies have detected activity of nitrifying microorganisms in oceanic cavities below permanent ice shelves. However, little is known about the microbial composition and pathways that mediate these activities. In this study, we profiled the microbial communities beneath the Ross Ice Shelf using a multi-omics approach. Overall, beneath-shelf microorganisms are of comparable abundance and diversity, though distinct composition, relative to those in the open meso- and bathypelagic ocean. Production of new organic carbon is likely driven by aerobic lithoautotrophic archaea and bacteria that can use ammonium, nitrite, and sulfur compounds as electron donors. Also enriched were aerobic organoheterotrophic bacteria capable of degrading complex organic carbon substrates, likely derived from in situ fixed carbon and potentially refractory organic matter laterally advected by the below-shelf waters. Altogether, these findings uncover a taxonomically distinct microbial community potentially adapted to a highly oligotrophic marine environment and suggest that ocean cavity waters are primarily chemosynthetically-driven systems.