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Microb Ecol. 2019 Dec 5. doi: 10.1007/s00248-019-01451-2. [Epub ahead of print]

Inorganic and Organic Carbon Uptake Processes and Their Connection to Microbial Diversity in Meso- and Bathypelagic Arctic Waters (Eastern Fram Strait).

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Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Napoli, Italy.
Istituto per le Risorse Biologiche e le Biotecnologie Marine (CNR-IRBIM), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Ancona, Italy.
Oceanography Division, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale - OGS, Trieste, Italy.
Oceanography Division, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale - OGS, Trieste, Italy.


The deep Arctic Ocean is increasingly vulnerable to climate change effects, yet our understanding of its microbial processes is limited. We collected samples from shelf waters, mesopelagic Atlantic Waters (AW) and bathypelagic Norwegian Sea Deep Waters (NSDW) in the eastern Fram Strait, along coast-to-offshore transects off Svalbard during boreal summer. We measured community respiration, heterotrophic carbon production (HCP), and dissolved inorganic carbon utilization (DICu) together with prokaryotic abundance, diversity, and metagenomic predictions. In deep samples, HCP was significantly faster in AW than in NSDW, while we observed no differences in DICu rates. Organic carbon uptake was higher than its inorganic counterpart, suggesting a major reliance of deep microbial Arctic communities on heterotrophic metabolism. Community structure and spatial distribution followed the hydrography of water masses. Distinct from other oceans, the most abundant OTU in our deep samples was represented by the archaeal MG-II. To address the potential biogeochemical role of each water mass-specific microbial community, as well as their link with the measured rates, PICRUSt-based predicted metagenomes were built. The results showed that pathways of auto- and heterotrophic carbon utilization differed between the deep water masses, although this was not reflected in measured DICu rates. Our findings provide new insights to understand microbial processes and diversity in the dark Arctic Ocean and to progress toward a better comprehension of the biogeochemical cycles and their trends in light of climate changes.


Arctic Ocean; Carbon cycling; Deep-sea microbial communities; Prokaryotic diversity


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