MEPS - Vol. 366 - Feature article

Prokaryotes play the principal role in remineralization of particulate organic carbon in seawater. Photo:Yoko Nishimura

Miki T, Yokokawa T, Nagata T, Yamamura N

 

Immigration of prokaryotes to local environments enhances remineralization efficiency of sinking particles: a metacommunity model

 

A new theoretical model, which integrates 'the metacommunity concept' and ocean biogeochemistry, demonstrates that the diversity of heterotrophic prokaryotes largely determines the efficiency of the biological pump, a major process explaining sequestration of carbon in the deep sea. Local prokaryotic communities show flexible responses to changes in primary production; this is possible because of the high regional diversity of prokaryotes (as revealed by recent molecular studies) and the immigration (transport) of prokaryotes into local communities. The theory provides a novel framework for linking the spatial heterogeneity of the prokaryotic community to regional biogeochemical processes, and thus improves our ability to predict carbon dynamics in the ocean.

 

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