Export of submicron particulate organic matter to mesopelagic depth in an oligotrophic gyre

Hilary Close, Sunita R. Shah, Anitra E. Ingalls, Aaron F. Diefendorf, Eoin L. Brodie, Roberta L. Hansman, Katherine H. Freeman, Lihini I. Aluwihare, Ann Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sixty percent of the world ocean by area is contained in oligotrophic gyres [Longhurst A (1995) Prog Oceanog 36:77-16], the biomass of which is dominated by picophytoplankton, including cyanobacteria and picoeukaryotic algae, as well as picoheterotrophs. Despite their recognized importance in carbon cycling in the surface ocean, the role of small cells and their detrital remains in the transfer of particulate organic matter (POM) to the deep ocean remains disputed. Because oligotrophic marine conditions are projected to expand under current climate trends, a better understanding of the role of small particles in the global carbon cycle is a timely goal. Here we use the lipid profiles, radiocarbon, and stable carbon isotopic signatures of lipids from the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre to show that in the surface ocean, lipids from submicron POM (here called extra-small POM) are distinct from larger classes of suspended POM. Remarkably, this distinct extra-small POM signature dominates the total lipids collected at mesopelagic depth, suggesting that the lipid component of mesopelagic POM primarily contains the exported remains of small particles. Transfer of submicron material to mesopelagic depths in this location is consistent with model results that claim the biological origin of exported carbon should be proportional to the distribution of cell types in the surface community, irrespective of cell size [Richardson TL, Jackson GA (2007) Science 315:838-840]. Our data suggest that the submicron component of exported POM is an important contributor to the global biological pump, especially in oligotrophic waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12565-12570
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume110
Issue number31
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 30 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Particulate Matter
Oceans and Seas
Lipids
Carbon
Carbon Cycle
Membrane Transport Proteins
Cyanobacteria
Climate
Cell Size
Biomass
Water

Keywords

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Biomarkers
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Oceanography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Export of submicron particulate organic matter to mesopelagic depth in an oligotrophic gyre. / Close, Hilary; Shah, Sunita R.; Ingalls, Anitra E.; Diefendorf, Aaron F.; Brodie, Eoin L.; Hansman, Roberta L.; Freeman, Katherine H.; Aluwihare, Lihini I.; Pearson, Ann.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 110, No. 31, 30.07.2013, p. 12565-12570.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Close, H, Shah, SR, Ingalls, AE, Diefendorf, AF, Brodie, EL, Hansman, RL, Freeman, KH, Aluwihare, LI & Pearson, A 2013, 'Export of submicron particulate organic matter to mesopelagic depth in an oligotrophic gyre', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 110, no. 31, pp. 12565-12570. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1217514110
Close, Hilary ; Shah, Sunita R. ; Ingalls, Anitra E. ; Diefendorf, Aaron F. ; Brodie, Eoin L. ; Hansman, Roberta L. ; Freeman, Katherine H. ; Aluwihare, Lihini I. ; Pearson, Ann. / Export of submicron particulate organic matter to mesopelagic depth in an oligotrophic gyre. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 ; Vol. 110, No. 31. pp. 12565-12570.
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