Vertical Distribution and Biochemical Composition of Pico- and Microparticulate Organic Matter in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

  • M. Fabiano
  • R. Danovaro
  • P. Povero


We studied the vertical distribution and biochemical composition of particulate organic matter in seven coastal stations located in Terra Nova Bay and in five open-sea stations located in the Ross Sea (Antarctica) during summer 1989–90. Protein, carbohydrate, lipid and ATP concentrations were estimated to assess the quantitative role of labile organic fractions in the cycling of organic matter in the water column and the processes related to particle dynamics. Particulate organic matter was filtered through 0.2 and 2.0 m pore-size filters to discriminate two size fractions: picoparticulate matter (particles between 0.2 and 2.0 m) and microparticulate matter (particles between 2.0 and 200 m). Significant quantitative and qualitative differences between the pico- and microparticulate fraction were observed. Total particulate suspended matter was mostly composed of micropartides, which accounted for two thirds of the total concentration. Similar results were obtained for proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. By contrast, ATP concentrations were significantly higher in the picoparticulate fraction. Although most of the picoparticulate matter was detrital (61.3%), this fraction contained the largest proportion of living organisms (i.e. picoplankton), whereas the microparticulate fraction was almost exclusively composed of organic detritus. Significant compositional differences between the two size-classes of particles were observed. The microparticulate matter was dominated by proteins, whereas the picoparticulate matter was mostly composed of carbohydrates. This may indicate a different origin of the two size-groups of particles.


Particulate Organic Matter Particulate Organic Carbon Mixed Layer Depth Photic Zone Total Suspended Matter 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Fabiano
    • 1
  • R. Danovaro
    • 2
  • P. Povero
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Scienze Ambientali MarineUniversità di GenovaS. Margherita L., GenovaItaly
  2. 2.Cattedra di Ecologia, Facoltà di ScienzeUniversità di AnconaAnconaItaly

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