Global biogeography of the smallest plankton across ocean depths

Pedro C. Junger, Hugo Sarmento, Caterina R. Giner, Mireia Mestre, Marta Sebastián, Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Javier Arístegui, Susana Agustí, Carlos M. Duarte, Silvia G. Acinas, Ramon Massana, Josep M. Gasol, Ramiro Logares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Tiny ocean plankton (picoplankton) are fundamental for the functioning of the biosphere, but the ecological mechanisms shaping their biogeography were partially understood. Comprehending whether these microorganisms are structured by niche versus neutral processes is relevant in the context of global change. We investigate the ecological processes (selection, dispersal, and drift) structuring global-ocean picoplanktonic communities inhabiting the epipelagic (0 to 200 meters), mesopelagic (200 to 1000 meters), and bathypelagic (1000 to 4000 meters) zones. We found that selection decreased, while dispersal limitation increased with depth, possibly due to differences in habitat heterogeneity and dispersal barriers such as water masses and bottom topography. Picoplankton β-diversity positively correlated with environmental heterogeneity and water mass variability, but this relationship tended to be weaker for eukaryotes than for prokaryotes. Community patterns were more pronounced in the Mediterranean Sea, probably because of its cross-basin environmental heterogeneity and deep-water isolation. We conclude that different combinations of ecological mechanisms shape the biogeography of the ocean microbiome across depths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)eadg9763
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2023


  • Plankton
  • Eukaryota
  • Microbiota
  • Water
  • Oceans and Seas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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