Tracking microbial metabolism in the ocean

Elizabeth Kujawinski

Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Pacific Forum—11:00 a.m.

Marine microbes play fundamental roles in global biogeochemical cycles through the fixation and remineralization of carbon and nitrogen. During their growth cycles, microbes release metabolites into the complex dissolved organic carbon pool, establishing biochemical connections among members of the microbial loop. Metabolites include important biological compounds such as vitamins, osmolytes, metabolic precursors, amino acids, and other biochemical monomers. The dissolved concentrations of these molecules are affected by the presence and activity of the resident microbial communities and thus can be used to infer broad physiological properties for marine microbes. Here, I will present dissolved metabolite concentrations in the Atlantic Ocean, along a transect from the Labrador Sea to Uruguay. The sampling captured important physical-chemical features such as the oligotrophic gyres and the Amazon River plume. The metabolite concentrations did not vary in tandem, highlighting the differential dynamics that may govern these molecules over large spatial scales.

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