Picoheterotroph (Bacteria and Archaea) biomass distribution in the global ocean

E. T. Buitenhuis, W. K. W. Li, M. W. Lomas, D. M. Karl, M. R. Landry, S. Jacquet

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We compiled a database of 39 766 data points consisting of flow cytometric and microscopical measurements of picoheterotroph abundance, including both Bacteria and Archaea. After gridding with 1° spacing, the database covers 1.3% of the ocean surface. There are data covering all ocean basins and depths except the Southern Hemisphere below 350m or from April until June. The average picoheterotroph biomass is 3.9 ± 3.6 µg Cl-1 with a 20-fold decrease between the surface and the deep sea. We estimate a total ocean inventory of about 1.3 × 1029 picoheterotroph cells. Surprisingly, the abundance in the coastal regions is the same as at the same depths in the open ocean. Using an average of published open ocean measurements for the conversion from abundance to carbon biomass of 9.1 fg cell-1, we calculate a picoheterotroph carbon inventory of about 1.2 Pg C. The main source of uncertainty in this inventory is the conversion factor from abundance to biomass. Picoheterotroph biomass is ? 2 times higher in the tropics than in the polar oceans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2012

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