Glucose fluxes and concentrations of dissolved combined neutral sugars (polysaccharides) in the Ross Sea and Polar Front Zone, Antarctica

David L. Kirchman, Benedikt Meon, Hugh W. Ducklow, Craig A. Carlson, Dennis A. Hansell, Grieg F. Steward

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119 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that dissolved carbohydrates would be large components of the labile dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool and would support much bacterial growth in Antarctic waters, especially the Ross Sea, since previous work had observed extensive phytoplankton blooms with potentially high production rates of carbohydrates in Antarctic seas. These hypotheses were tested on cruises in the Ross Sea and Antarctic Polar Front Zone as part of the US JGOFS program. Concentrations and fluxes of free glucose (the only free sugar detected) were very low, but dissolved polysaccharides appeared to be important components of the DOC pool. Concentrations of dissolved combined neutral sugars increased > 3-fold during the phytoplankton bloom in the Ross Sea and were a large fraction (ca, 50%) of the semi-labile fraction of DOC. The relatively high concentrations of dissolved combined neutral sugars, which are thought to be quite labile, appear to explain why DOC accumulated during the phytoplankton bloom was degraded so quickly once the bloom ended. Some of the polysaccharides appeared to be more refractory, however, since dissolved combined neutral sugars were observed in deep waters > 550 m) and in early spring (October) in the Ross Sea, apparently having survived degradation for > 8 months, The molecular composition of these refractory polysaccharides differed from that of polysaccharides sampled during the phytoplankton bloom. Fluxes of DOC were low in the Ross Sea compared to standing stocks and fluxes of particulate material, but the DOC that did accumulate during the phytoplankton bloom appeared to be sugar-rich and relatively labile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4179-4197
Number of pages19
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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