Metabolite Composition of Sinking Particles Differs from Surface Suspended Particles Across a Latitudinal Transect in the South Atlantic
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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Marine sinking particles transport carbon from the surface and bury it in deep-sea sediments, where it can be sequestered on geologic time scales. The combination of the surface ocean food web that produces these particles and the particle-associated microbial community that degrades them creates a complex set of variables that control organic matter cycling. We use targeted metabolomics to characterize a suite of small biomolecules, or metabolites, in sinking particles and compare their metabolite composition to that of the suspended particles in the euphotic zone from which they are likely derived. These samples were collected in the South Atlantic subtropical gyre, as well as in the equatorial Atlantic region and the Amazon River plume. The composition of targeted metabolites in the sinking particles was relatively similar throughout the transect, despite the distinct oceanic regions in which they were generated. Metabolites possibly derived from the degradation of nucleic acids and lipids, such as xanthine and glycine betaine, were an increased mole fraction of the targeted metabolites in the sinking particles relative to surface suspended particles, while algal-derived metabolites like the osmolyte dimethylsulfoniopropionate were a smaller fraction of the observed metabolites on the sinking particles. These compositional changes are shaped both by the removal of metabolites associated with detritus delivered from the surface ocean and by production of metabolites by the sinking particle-associated microbial communities. Furthermore, they provide a basis for examining the types and quantities of metabolites that may be delivered to the deep sea by sinking particles.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography