Changes in Arctic marine bacterial carbon metabolism in response to increasing temperature

Emma S. Kritzberg, Carlos M. Duarte, Paul Wassmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Arctic areas of deep-water convection have a large potential for export of organic carbon from surface waters into the deep sea and, therefore, are an important part of the global carbon cycle. As the Arctic is reportedly heating up faster than any other part of the planet, temperature-driven changes in the biogeochemical cycling in these areas can be very significant. Here, we study the regulation of bacterial carbon metabolism, which process vast amounts of organic carbon, by temperature and the availability of resources. The response of bacterial production and respiration of natural bacterial assemblages from the Fram Strait was studied by experimental manipulations of temperature and resources in combination. Both bacterial production and respiration were enhanced by temperature so that the total bacterial carbon demand increased sixfold following a temperature increase of 6°C. Respiration responded more strongly than production so that bacterial growth efficiency decreased with increasing temperature. Although neither production nor respiration was limited by resource availability under in situ conditions, the response to temperature was higher in resource-amended treatments, indicative of a substrate-temperature interaction regulating both components of bacterial metabolism. In conclusion, the results show that warming can result in a substantial increase of the carbon flow through bacteria and that most of the carbon consumed would be released as CO2. Moreover, the results suggest that both temperature and availability of resources need to be considered to accurately be able to predict changes in bacterial carbon metabolism in response to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1673-1682
Number of pages10
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Arctic
  • Bacterial growth efficiency
  • Bacterial production
  • Bacterial respiration
  • Carbon cycling
  • Temperature effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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