Linkages Among Dissolved Organic Matter Export, Dissolved Metabolites, and Associated Microbial Community Structure Response in the Northwestern Sargasso Sea on a Seasonal Scale

Shuting Liu, Krista Longnecker, Elizabeth B. Kujawinski, Kevin Vergin, Luis M. Bolaños, Stephen J. Giovannoni, Rachel Parsons, Keri Opalk, Elisa Halewood, Dennis A. Hansell, Rod Johnson, Ruth Curry, Craig A. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Deep convective mixing of dissolved and suspended organic matter from the surface to depth can represent an important export pathway of the biological carbon pump. The seasonally oligotrophic Sargasso Sea experiences annual winter convective mixing to as deep as 300 m, providing a unique model system to examine dissolved organic matter (DOM) export and its subsequent compositional transformation by microbial oxidation. We analyzed biogeochemical and microbial parameters collected from the northwestern Sargasso Sea, including bulk dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total dissolved amino acids (TDAA), dissolved metabolites, bacterial abundance and production, and bacterial community structure, to assess the fate and compositional transformation of DOM by microbes on a seasonal time-scale in 2016–2017. DOM dynamics at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site followed a general annual trend of DOC accumulation in the surface during stratified periods followed by downward flux during winter convective mixing. Changes in the amino acid concentrations and compositions provide useful indices of diagenetic alteration of DOM. TDAA concentrations and degradation indices increased in the mesopelagic zone during mixing, indicating the export of a relatively less diagenetically altered (i.e., more labile) DOM. During periods of deep mixing, a unique subset of dissolved metabolites, such as amino acids, vitamins, and benzoic acids, was produced or lost. DOM export and compositional change were accompanied by mesopelagic bacterial growth and response of specific bacterial lineages in the SAR11, SAR202, and SAR86 clades, Acidimicrobiales, and Flavobacteria, during and shortly following deep mixing. Complementary DOM biogeochemistry and microbial measurements revealed seasonal changes in DOM composition and diagenetic state, highlighting microbial alteration of the quantity and quality of DOM in the ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number833252
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume13
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 8 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Sargasso Sea
  • amino acids
  • bacterioplankton
  • dissolved organic matter
  • metabolites
  • mixing
  • seasonal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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