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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 71 No. 2 - Feature article
Crucial role of the microbial loop (blue: prokaryotes, red: viruses, free; flagellate) for nutrient regeneration and carbon processing in the twilight zone. Foto credit: Markus Weinbauer

Weinbauer MG, Liu J, Motegi C, Maier C, Pedrotti ML, Dai M, Gattuso JP


Seasonal variability of microbial respiration and bacterial and archaeal community composition in the upper twilight zone


In the marine twilight zone (the sandwich layer located between surface and deep ocean), most of the nutrient regeneration and processing of sinking organic carbon occur, whereas the light availability is insufficient for photosynthesis. However, our knowledge of the ecology and biogeochemistry of this zone is still poor. Thus, a seasonal study was conducted in the Mediterranean Sea (300 m depth), showing that this depth layer harbors a specific community of Bacteria and Archaea, and that the seasonal water mixing and the sinking of organic particles are major factors controlling microbial processes. The findings corroborate the emerging view that the twilight zone is more dynamic and more significant for nutrient regeneration and carbon processing than previously thought.


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