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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Nano‐ and picophytoplankton are a major component of open‐ocean ecosystems and one of the main plankton functional types in biogeochemical models, yet little is known about their trace metal contents. In cultures of the picoeukaryoteOstreococcus lucimarinus, iron limitation reduced iron quotas by 68%, a fraction of the plasticity known in diatoms. In contrast, a commonly co‐occurring cyanobacterium,Prochlorococcus, showed variable iron contents with iron availability in culture. Synchrotron X‐ray fluorescence was used to measure single‐cell metal (Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn) quotas of autotrophic flagellates (1.4–16.8‐μm diameter) collected from four ocean regions. Iron quotas were tightly constrained and showed little response to iron availability, similar to culturedOstreococcus. Zinc quotas also did not vary with zinc availability but appeared to vary with phosphorus availability. These results suggest that macronutrient and metal availability may be equally important for controlling metal contents of small eukaryotic open‐ocean phytoplankton.

     
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  3. Abstract. Cobalt is the scarcest of metallic micronutrients and displays a complex biogeochemical cycle. This study examines the distribution, chemical speciation, and biogeochemistry of dissolved cobalt during the US North Atlantic GEOTRACES transect expeditions (GA03/3_e), which took place in the fall of 2010 and 2011. Two major subsurface sources of cobalt to the North Atlantic were identified. The more prominent of the two was a large plume of cobalt emanating from the African coast off the eastern tropical North Atlantic coincident with the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) likely due to reductive dissolution, biouptake and remineralization, and aeolian dust deposition. The occurrence of this plume in an OMZ with oxygen above suboxic levels implies a high threshold for persistence of dissolved cobalt plumes. The other major subsurface source came from Upper Labrador Seawater, which may carry high cobalt concentrations due to the interaction of this water mass with resuspended sediment at the western margin or from transport further upstream. Minor sources of cobalt came from dust, coastal surface waters and hydrothermal systems along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The full depth section of cobalt chemical speciation revealed near-complete complexation in surface waters, even within regions of high dust deposition. However, labile cobalt observed below the euphotic zone demonstrated that strong cobalt-binding ligands were not present in excess of the total cobalt concentration there, implying that mesopelagic labile cobalt was sourced from the remineralization of sinking organic matter. In the upper water column, correlations were observed between total cobalt and phosphate, and between labile cobalt and phosphate, demonstrating a strong biological influence on cobalt cycling. Along the western margin off the North American coast, this correlation with phosphate was no longer observed and instead a relationship between cobalt and salinity was observed, reflecting the importance of coastal input processes on cobalt distributions. In deep waters, both total and labile cobalt concentrations were lower than in intermediate depth waters, demonstrating that scavenging may remove labile cobalt from the water column. Total and labile cobalt distributions were also compared to a previously published South Atlantic GEOTRACES-compliant zonal transect (CoFeMUG, GAc01) to discern regional biogeochemical differences. Together, these Atlantic sectional studies highlight the dynamic ecological stoichiometry of total and labile cobalt. As increasing anthropogenic use and subsequent release of cobalt poses the potential to overpower natural cobalt signals in the oceans, it is more important than ever to establish a baseline understanding of cobalt distributions in the ocean.

     
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  4. The stoichiometry of biological components and their influence on dissolved distributions have long been of interest in the study of the oceans. Cobalt has the smallest oceanic inventory of inorganic micronutrients and hence is particularly vulnerable to influence by internal oceanic processes including euphotic zone uptake, remineralization, and scavenging. Here we observe not only large variations in dCo : P stoichiometry but also the acceleration of those dCo : P ratios in the upper water column in response to several environmental processes. The ecological stoichiometry of total dissolved cobalt (dCo) was examined using data from a US North Atlantic GEOTRACES transect and from a zonal South Atlantic GEOTRACES-compliant transect (GA03/3_e and GAc01) by Redfieldian analysis of its statistical relationships with the macronutrient phosphate. Trends in the dissolved cobalt to phosphate (dCo : P) stoichiometric relationships were evident in the basin-scale vertical structure of cobalt, with positive dCo : P slopes in the euphotic zone and negative slopes found in the ocean interior and in coastal environments. The euphotic positive slopes were often found to accelerate towards the surface and this was interpreted as being due to the combined influence of depleted phosphate, phosphorus-sparing (conserving) mechanisms, increased alkaline phosphatase metalloenzyme production (a zinc or perhaps cobalt enzyme), and biochemical substitution of Co for depleted Zn. Consistent with this, dissolved Zn (dZn) was found to be drawn down to only 2-fold more than dCo, despite being more than 18-fold more abundant in the ocean interior. Particulate cobalt concentrations increased in abundance from the base of the euphotic zone to become  ∼  10 % of the overall cobalt inventory in the upper euphotic zone with high stoichiometric values of  ∼  400 µmol Co mol−1 P. Metaproteomic results from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) station found cyanobacterial isoforms of the alkaline phosphatase enzyme to be prevalent in the upper water column, as well as a sulfolipid biosynthesis protein indicative of P sparing. The negative dCo : P relationships in the ocean interior became increasingly vertical with depth, and were consistent with the sum of scavenging and remineralization processes (as shown by their dCo : P vector sums). Attenuation of the remineralization with depth resulted in the increasingly vertical dCo : P relationships. Analysis of particulate Co with particulate Mn and particulate phosphate also showed positive linear relationships below the euphotic zone, consistent with the presence and increased relative influence of Mn oxide particles involved in scavenging. Visualization of dCo : P slopes across an ocean section revealed hotspots of scavenging and remineralization, such as at the hydrothermal vents and below the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) region, respectively, while that of an estimate of Co* illustrated stoichiometrically depleted values in the mesopelagic and deep ocean due to scavenging. This study provides insights into the coupling between the dissolved and particulate phase that ultimately creates Redfield stoichiometric ratios, demonstrating that the coupling is not an instantaneous process and is influenced by the element inventory and rate of exchange between phases. Cobalt's small water column inventory and the influence of external factors on its biotic stoichiometry can erode its limited inertia and result in an acceleration of the dissolved stoichiometry towards that of the particulate phase in the upper euphotic zone. As human use of cobalt grows exponentially with widespread adoption of lithium ion batteries, there is a potential to affect the limited biogeochemical inertia of cobalt and its resultant ecology in the oceanic euphotic zone. 
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  5. Abstract

    Phytoplankton iron contents (i.e., quotas) directly link biogeochemical cycles of iron and carbon and drive patterns of nutrient limitation, recycling, and export. Ocean biogeochemical models typically assume that iron quotas are either static or controlled by dissolved iron availability. We measured iron quotas in phytoplankton communities across nutrient gradients in the Pacific Ocean and found that quotas diverged significantly in taxon‐specific ways from laboratory‐derived predictions. Iron quotas varied 40‐fold across nutrient gradients, and nitrogen‐limitation allowed diatoms to accumulate fivefold more iron than co‐occurring flagellates even under low iron availability. Modeling indicates such “luxury” uptake is common in large regions of the low‐iron Pacific Ocean. Among diatoms, both pennate and centric genera accumulated luxury iron, but the cosmopolitan pennate genusPseudo‐nitzschiamaintained iron quotas 10‐fold higher than co‐occurring centric diatoms, likely due to enhanced iron storage. Biogeochemical models should account for taxonomic and macronutrient controls on phytoplankton iron quotas.

     
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  6. Abstract

    Processes controlling dissolved barium (dBa) were investigated along the GEOTRACES GA03 North Atlantic and GP16 Eastern Tropical Pacific transects, which traversed similar physical and biogeochemical provinces. Dissolved Ba concentrations are lowest in surface waters (∼35–50 nmol kg−1) and increase to 70–80 and 140–150 nmol kg−1in deep waters of the Atlantic and Pacific transects, respectively. Using water mass mixing models, we estimate conservative mixing that accounts for most of dBa variability in both transects. To examine nonconservative processes, particulate excess Ba (pBaxs) formation and dissolution rates were tracked by normalizing particulate excess230Th activities. Th‐normalized pBaxsfluxes, with barite as the likely phase, have subsurface maxima in the top 1,000 m (∼100–200 μmol m−2 year−1average) in both basins. Barite precipitation depletes dBa within oxygen minimum zones from concentrations predicted by water mass mixing, whereas inputs from continental margins, particle dissolution in the water column, and benthic diffusive flux raise dBa above predications. Average pBaxsburial efficiencies along GA03 and GP16 are ∼37% and 17%–100%, respectively, and do not seem to be predicated on barite saturation indices in the overlying water column. Using published values, we reevaluate the global freshwater dBa river input as 6.6 ± 3.9 Gmol year−1. Estuarine mixing processes may add another 3–13 Gmol year−1. Dissolved Ba inputs from broad shallow continental margins, previously unaccounted for in global marine summaries, are substantial (∼17 Gmol year−1), exceeding terrestrial freshwater inputs. Revising river and shelf dBa inputs may help bring the marine Ba isotope budget more into balance.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Sinking particles strongly regulate the distribution of reactive chemical substances in the ocean, including particulate organic carbon and other elements (e.g., P, Cd, Mn, Cu, Co, Fe, Al, and232Th). Yet, the sinking fluxes of trace elements have not been well described in the global ocean. The U.S. GEOTRACES campaign in the North Atlantic (GA03) offers the first data set in which the sinking flux of carbon and trace elements can be derived using four different radionuclide pairs (238U:234Th;210Pb:210Po;228Ra:228Th; and234U:230Th) at stations co‐located with sediment trap fluxes for comparison. Particulate organic carbon, particulate P, and particulate Cd fluxes all decrease sharply with depth below the euphotic zone. Particulate Mn, Cu, and Co flux profiles display mixed behavior, some cases reflecting biotic remineralization, and other cases showing increased flux with depth. The latter may be related to either lateral input of lithogenic material or increased scavenging onto particles. Lastly, particulate Fe fluxes resemble fluxes of Al and232Th, which all have increasing flux with depth, indicating a dominance of lithogenic flux at depth by resuspended sediment transported laterally to the study site. In comparing flux estimates derived using different isotope pairs, differences result from different timescales of integration and particle size fractionation effects. The range in flux estimates produced by different methods provides a robust constraint on the true removal fluxes, taking into consideration the independent uncertainties associated with each method. These estimates will be valuable targets for biogeochemical modeling and may also offer insight into particle sinking processes.

     
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