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Limnology and Oceanography








Little is known about the trace metal content of marine prokaryotes, in part due to their co-occurrence with more abundant particulate phases in the upper ocean, such as phytoplankton and biogenic detritus, lithogenic minerals, and authigenic Mn and Fe oxyhydroxides. We attempt to isolate these biomass signals in particulate data from the US GEOTRACES Eastern Pacific Zonal Transect (cruise GP16) in the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP), which exhibited consistent maxima in P and other bioactive trace metals, and minima in particulate Mn, in the oxygen deficient zones (ODZs) of 13 stations. Nitrite maxima and nitrate deficits indicated the presence of denitrifying prokaryotic biomass within ETSP ODZs, and deep secondary fluorescence maxima at the upper ODZ boundaries of 10 stations also suggested the presence of low-light, autotrophic communities. ODZs were observed as far west as 99 degrees W, more than 2300 km from the South American coast, where eolian lithogenic and lateral/resuspended sedimentary inputs were negligible, presenting a unique opportunity to examine prokaryotic metal stoichiometries. ODZ particulate P maxima can rival gyre mixed layer biomass concentrations, are highly sensitive to oxygen, and are in excess of amounts scavengable by local Fe oxyhydroxides and acid-volatile sulfides. Even after correction for lithogenic and ferruginous-scavenged metals, ODZ P-maxima are often enriched in Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, V, and Zn, exhibiting particulate trace metal ratios to P that exceed mixed layer biomass ratios by factors of 2-9. ODZ prokaryotic communities may be largely hidden, TM-rich pools involved in the marine cycles of these bioactive trace metals.

Original Publication Citation

Ohnemus, D. C., Rauschenberg, S., Cutter, G. A., Fitzsimmons, J. N., Sherrell, R. M., & Twining, B. S. (2017). Elevated trace metal content of prokaryotic communities associated with marine oxygen deficient zones. Limnology and Oceanography, 62(1), 3-25. doi:10.1002/lno.10363


0000-0001-6744-6718 (Cutter)


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