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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Jun;7(6):451-9. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2115.

Microbial growth in the polar oceans - role of temperature and potential impact of climate change.

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  • 1University of Delaware, Lewes, 19958, USA. kirchman@udel.edu


Heterotrophic bacteria are the most abundant organisms on the planet and dominate oceanic biogeochemical cycles, including that of carbon. Their role in polar waters has been enigmatic, however, because of conflicting reports about how temperature and the supply of organic carbon control bacterial growth. In this Analysis article, we attempt to resolve this controversy by reviewing previous reports in light of new data on microbial processes in the western Arctic Ocean and by comparing polar waters with low-latitude oceans. Understanding the regulation of in situ microbial activity may help us understand the response of the Arctic Ocean and Antarctic coastal waters over the coming decades as they warm and ice coverage declines.

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