Inorganic and Organic Carbon Uptake Processes and Their Connection to Microbial Diversity in Meso- and Bathypelagic Arctic Waters (Eastern Fram Strait)

  • Grazia Marina Quero
  • Mauro CelussiEmail author
  • Federica Relitti
  • Vedrana Kovačević
  • Paola Del Negro
  • Gian Marco Luna
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems


The deep Arctic Ocean is increasingly vulnerable to climate change effects, yet our understanding of its microbial processes is limited. We collected samples from shelf waters, mesopelagic Atlantic Waters (AW) and bathypelagic Norwegian Sea Deep Waters (NSDW) in the eastern Fram Strait, along coast-to-offshore transects off Svalbard during boreal summer. We measured community respiration, heterotrophic carbon production (HCP), and dissolved inorganic carbon utilization (DICu) together with prokaryotic abundance, diversity, and metagenomic predictions. In deep samples, HCP was significantly faster in AW than in NSDW, while we observed no differences in DICu rates. Organic carbon uptake was higher than its inorganic counterpart, suggesting a major reliance of deep microbial Arctic communities on heterotrophic metabolism. Community structure and spatial distribution followed the hydrography of water masses. Distinct from other oceans, the most abundant OTU in our deep samples was represented by the archaeal MG-II. To address the potential biogeochemical role of each water mass-specific microbial community, as well as their link with the measured rates, PICRUSt-based predicted metagenomes were built. The results showed that pathways of auto- and heterotrophic carbon utilization differed between the deep water masses, although this was not reflected in measured DICu rates. Our findings provide new insights to understand microbial processes and diversity in the dark Arctic Ocean and to progress toward a better comprehension of the biogeochemical cycles and their trends in light of climate changes.


Arctic Ocean Deep-sea microbial communities Carbon cycling Prokaryotic diversity 



Sampling was carried out during the PREPARED (Present and past flow regime on contourite drifts west of Spitsbergen) cruise in the framework of the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) EUROFLEETS2 project. Financial aid from the project DEEPROSSS (Funded by the National Antarctic Research Program of Italy, PNRA) and the National Flagship Program RITMARE is also acknowledged. We thank the chief scientist of the cruise R.G. Lucchi, M. Kralj for nutrient data, N. Lucchini for the microscope analysis, and G. Ingrosso for DIC data and for his precious work onboard. The constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers helped to improve the manuscript during the revision stage.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

248_2019_1451_MOESM1_ESM.docx (835 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 834 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stazione Zoologica Anton DohrnIntegrative Marine Ecology DepartmentNapoliItaly
  2. 2.Oceanography DivisionIstituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale – OGSTriesteItaly
  3. 3.Istituto per le Risorse Biologiche e le Biotecnologie Marine (CNR-IRBIM)Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheAnconaItaly
  4. 4.Istituto per le Risorse Biologiche e le Biotecnologie Marine (CNR-IRBIM)Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheAnconaItaly

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