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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 404 - Feature article
Overturned ice floes and detail of an ice core from the Weddell Sea showing extensive growth of sea-ice diatom assemblages. Photo: David N. Thomas

Underwood GJC, Fietz S, Papadimitriou S, Thomas DN, Dieckmann GS


Distribution and composition of dissolved extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in Antarctic sea ice


As sea ice forms, a complex network of channels and pores develops, filled with concentrated brines, dense populations of sea ice algae—mainly diatoms—and high concentrations of carbohydrate-rich extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Underwood and colleagues have characterised EPS in Antarctic sea ice, revealing differences in abundance, solubility and chemical composition in different components of the ice system, and in relation to the distribution of ice algae. The data illustrate the important role of EPS in modifying the local environment around cells living in sea ice brine channels, and the formation of a chemically diverse source of dissolved organic carbon to the water column upon ice melt.


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