Plankton networks driving carbon export in the oligotrophic ocean

Tara Oceans Consortium Coordinators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations

Abstract

The biological carbon pump is the process by which CO 2 is transformed to organic carbon via photosynthesis, exported through sinking particles, and finally sequestered in the deep ocean. While the intensity of the pump correlates with plankton community composition, the underlying ecosystem structure driving the process remains largely uncharacterized. Here we use environmental and metagenomic data gathered during the Tara Oceans expedition to improve our understanding of carbon export in the oligotrophic ocean. We show that specific plankton communities, from the surface and deep chlorophyll maximum, correlate with carbon export at 150 m and highlight unexpected taxa such as Radiolaria and alveolate parasites, as well as Synechococcus and their phages, as lineages most strongly associated with carbon export in the subtropical, nutrient-depleted, oligotrophic ocean. Additionally, we show that the relative abundance of a few bacterial and viral genes can predict a significant fraction of the variability in carbon export in these regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-470
Number of pages6
JournalNature
Volume532
Issue number7600
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 28 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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