Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Oct;5(10):792-800.

Resourceful heterotrophs make the most of light in the coastal ocean.

Author information

Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-3636, USA.


The carbon cycle in the coastal ocean is affected by how heterotrophic marine bacterioplankton obtain their energy. Although it was previously thought that these organisms relied on the organic carbon in seawater for all of their energy needs, several recent discoveries now suggest that pelagic bacteria can depart from a strictly heterotrophic lifestyle by obtaining energy through unconventional mechanisms that are linked to the penetration of sunlight into surface waters. These newly discovered mechanisms involve the harvesting of energy, either directly from light or indirectly from inorganic compounds that are formed when dissolved organic carbon absorbs light. In coastal systems, these mixed metabolic strategies have implications for how efficiently organic carbon is retained in the marine food web and how climatically important gases are exchanged between the ocean and the atmosphere.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center