Bacterioplankton dark CO2 fixation in oligotrophic waters

Afrah Alothman, Daffne López-Sandoval, Carlos M. Duarte, Susana Agustí

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Dark CO2 fixation by bacteria is believed to be particularly important in oligotrophic ecosystems. However, only a few studies have characterized the role of bacterial dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) fixation in global carbon dynamics. Therefore, this study quantified the primary production (PP), total bacteria dark CO2 fixation (TBDIC fixation), and heterotrophic bacterial production (HBP) in the warm and oligotrophic Red Sea using stable-isotope labeling and cavity ring-down spectroscopy (13C-CRDS). Additionally, we assessed the contribution of bacterial DIC fixation (TBDIC%) relative to the total DIC fixation (totalDIC fixation). Our study demonstrated that TBDIC fixation increased the totalDIC fixation from 2.03 to 60.45μgCL-1d-1 within the photic zone, contributing 13.18% to 71.68% with an average value of 33.95±0.02% of the photic layer totalDIC fixation. The highest TBDIC fixation values were measured at the surface and deep (400m) water with an average value of 5.23±0.45 and 4.95±1.33μgCL-1d-1, respectively. These findings suggest that the non-photosynthetic processes such as anaplerotic DIC reactions and chemoautotrophic CO2 fixation extended to the entire oxygenated water column. On the other hand, the percent of TBDIC contribution to totalDIC fixation increased as primary production decreased (R2Combining double low line0.45, p<0.0001), suggesting the relevance of increased dark DIC fixation when photosynthetic production was low or absent, as observed in other systems. Therefore, when estimating the total carbon dioxide production in the ocean, dark DIC fixation must also be accounted for as a crucial component of the carbon dioxide flux in addition to photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3613-3624
Number of pages12
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


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