Temperature regulation of marine heterotrophic prokaryotes increases latitudinally as a breach between bottom-up and top-down controls

Xose Anxelu G. Moran, Josep M. Gasol, Massimo C. Pernice, Jean-François Mangot, Ramon Massana, Elena Lara, Dolors Vaqué, Carlos M. Duarte

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38 Scopus citations


Planktonic heterotrophic prokaryotes make up the largest living biomass and process most organic matter in the ocean. Determining when and where the biomass and activity of heterotrophic prokaryotes are controlled by resource availability (bottom-up), predation and viral lysis (top-down) or temperature will help in future carbon cycling predictions. We conducted an extensive survey across subtropical and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans during the Malaspina 2010 Global Circumnavigation Expedition and assessed indices for these three types of controls at 109 stations (mostly from the surface to 4000 m depth). Temperature control was approached by the apparent activation energy in eV (ranging from 0.46 to 3.41), bottom-up control by the slope of the log-log relationship between biomass and production rate (ranging from -0.12 to 1.09) and top-down control by an index that considers the relative abundances of heterotrophic nanoflagellates and viruses (ranging from 0.82 to 4.83). We conclude that temperature becomes dominant (i.e. activation energy >1.5 eV) within a narrow window of intermediate values of bottom-up (0.3-0.6) and top-down 0.8-1.2) controls. A pervasive latitudinal pattern of decreasing temperature regulation towards the Equator, regardless of the oceanic basin, suggests that the impact of global warming on marine microbes and their biogeochemical function will be more intense at higher latitudes. Our analysis predicts that 1°C ocean warming will result in increased biomass of heterotrophic prokaryoplankton only in waters with
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3956-3964
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 29 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This study was funded by the Malaspina 2010 Global Circumnavigation Expedition (Consolider-Ingenio 2010 grant CSD2008-00077). We thank all the colleagues and crew on board of R/V Hespérides for their help in collecting and processing the samples, especially the rest of the members of the microbial oceanography team and particularly Ana Gomes and Laura Díaz-Pérez among them.


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