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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


The oceans teem with heterotrophic bacterioplankton that play an appreciable role in the uptake of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) derived from phytoplankton net primary production (NPP). As such, bacterioplankton carbon demand (BCD), or gross heterotrophic production, represents a major carbon pathway that influences the seasonal accumulation of DOC in the surface ocean and, subsequently, the potential vertical or horizontal export of seasonally accumulated DOC. Here, we examine the contributions of bacterioplankton and DOM to ecological and biogeochemical carbon flow pathways, including those of the microbial loop and the biological carbon pump, in the Western North Atlantic Ocean (∼39–54°N along ∼40°W) over a composite annual phytoplankton bloom cycle. Combining field observations with data collected from corresponding DOC remineralization experiments, we estimate the efficiency at which bacterioplankton utilize DOC, demonstrate seasonality in the fraction of NPP that supports BCD, and provide evidence for shifts in the bioavailability and persistence of the seasonally accumulated DOC. Our results indicate that while the portion of DOC flux through bacterioplankton relative to NPP increased as seasons transitioned from high to low productivity, there was a fraction of the DOM production that accumulated and persisted. This persistent DOM is potentially an important pool of organic carbon available for export to the deep ocean via convective mixing, thus representing an important export term of the biological carbon pump.


© Frontiers in Microbiology. First published by Frontiers Media at 10.3389/fmicb.2021.669883.

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Frontiers in Microbiology



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