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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 369 - Feature article
Bacterioplankton has a key role in dimethylsulfide production, thereby helping to regulate the Earth's climate. Photo: Julien Pommier

Merzouk A, Levasseur M, Scarratt M, Michaud S, Lizotte M, Rivkin RB,
Kiene RP


Bacterial DMSP metabolism during the senescence of the spring diatom bloom in the Northwest Atlantic


Emissions of dimethylsulfide (DMS) from the ocean to the atmosphere constitute a key component of the Earth’s climate regulation system: DMS increases cloud albedo, and thus the scattering of solar radiation. DMS is mostly produced by bacterial degradation of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), which is released during senescence of phytoplankton blooms. Merzouk and co-workers monitored the declining phase of the Northwest Atlantic spring diatom bloom and found no stimulation of bacterial DMSP uptake and DMS production, despite a significant increase in bacterial activity. The bacterial community utilized other labile sulfur-rich compounds released by the decaying bloom. This field study therefore provides evidence of an uncoupling between bacterial dynamics and DMS production.


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