Assessment of bacterial dependence on marine primary production along a northern latitudinal gradient

Eric Fouilland (Lead Author), Emilie Le Floc'h, Debra Brennan, Elanor M. Bell, Sian L. Lordsmith, Sharon McNeill, Elaine Mitchell, Tim D. Brand, E. Elena García-Martín, Raymond J. G. Leakey

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Recent observations in polar marine waters have shown that a large fraction of primary production may be lost to respiration by planktonic bacteria due to very low bacterial growth efficiencies in cold waters. Here we report that sea temperature may be a key factor influencing the interaction between bacteria and primary production in North Atlantic and Arctic waters, suggesting that low primary production rates could not sustain bacterial carbon demand in the coldest Arctic waters. The use of freshly produced phytoplankton exudate by bacteria in early- and mid-summer was assessed, together with the bacterial uptake of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN = nitrate and ammonium), in surface waters along a latitudinal gradient from the North Sea to the Arctic sea ice. Bacterial production was independent of the low primary production measured in the coldest waters. Under these conditions, heterotrophic bacteria can consume a large fraction of DIN and N-rich organic matter, making them strong contributors to N fluxes in these waters.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiy150
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number10
Early online date6 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Carbon coupling
  • Arctic waters
  • Phytoplankton and bacteria interactions
  • Nitrogen fluxes

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