Bacterial community structures in the Arctic Ocean: the effect of increased carbon load on nutrient competition and bacterial diversity
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The Arctic Ocean is a unique marine environment with respect to irradiation periodicity and intensity, temperature, ice formation and strong stratification. Changes due to global warming might be more pronounced in this system compared to other oceans, as the melting of both sea ice and permafrost will accompany high nutrient input to the Arctic Ocean simultaneous with increasing light penetration of the water column. Microbial communities play an important role in carbon cycling in the ocean, as they constitute both the main primary producers (phytoplankton) and the main consumers of dissolved organic carbon (heterotrophic bacteria) which make dissolved organic carbon available for higher trophic levels. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) might also have a positive effect on the production of dissolved organic carbon in the oceans. This may in particular impact heterotrophic bacteria and, thereby, the trophic state of the ocean. In this thesis, in situ investigations of the microbial community and the trophic state of a representative Arctic marine system are presented (Paper I) as well as nutrient manipulation experiments performed in mesocosms in the Arctic (Papers II, III and IV) and in the laboratory (Paper V). In the in situ study performed in Fram Strait (Paper I), the microbial community demonstrated net-autotrophy although the microbial biomass was dominated by heterotrophs. In three nutrient manipulation experiments we studied the effects of (i) increased organic carbon load on mineral nutrient competition between bacteria and phytoplankton (Paper II), (ii) increased organic carbon load on the bacterial community structure (Paper III), (iii) increased partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) on bacterial community shifts in response to increasing organic carbon load (Paper IV) and (iv) carbon complexity and viral lysis on the bacterial community structure and diversity (Paper V). All experiments showed that the bacterial community was affected by increasing nutrient loads. During the mesocosm experiment in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, a shift from net-autotrophy to net-heterotrophy was detected with increasing glucose addition, which was interpreted as a consequence of stimulated bacterial competition for mineral nutrients (Paper II). In the same experiment, pronounced changes in the bacterial community composition due to glucose addition were seen (Paper III). Furthermore, investigations of bacterial community responses to glucose addition under conditions intended to simulate ocean acidification showed a significant interaction between glucose and seawater acidification in the Fram Strait (Paper IV). Finally, natural bacterial communities incubated in the laboratory in the presence of a single carbon compound (glucose) demonstrated lower diversity and richness compared to those incubated with complex algal-derived carbon compounds (provided by Thalassiosira sp. and Phaeocystis pouchetii respectively) (Paper V). These observations are likely the consequence of co-acting bottom-up (carbon composition) and top-down (host-virus-interactions) regulatory mechanisms acting upon the bacterial communities under investigation.
Paper I: Seuthe L., Töpper B., Reigstad M., Thyrhaug R., Vaquer-Sunyer R. (2011) Microbial communities and processes in ice-covered Arctic waters of the northwestern Fram Strait (75 to 80° N) during the vernal pre-bloom phase. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 64: 253-266. The published version is available at: http://hdl.handle.net/1956/5931Paper II: Thingstad T.F., Bellerby R.G.J., Bratbak G., Borsheim K.Y., Egge J.K., Heldal M., Larsen A., Neill C., Nejstgaard J., Norland S., Sandaa R.A., Skjoldal E.F., Tanaka T., Thyrhaug R., Töpper B. (2008) Counterintuitive carbon-to-nutrient coupling in an Arctic pelagic ecosystem. Nature 455: 387-391. Full-text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07235Paper III: Töpper B., Larsen A., Thingstad T.F., Thyrhaug R., Sandaa R.-A. (2010) Bacterial community composition in an Arctic phytoplankton mesocosm bloom: the impact of silicate and glucose. Polar Biology 33: 1557-1565. Full-text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00300-010-0846-4Paper IV: Ray J.L., Töpper B., Shu A., Silyakova A., Spindelböck J., Thyrhaug R., Dubow M.S., Thingstad T.F., Sandaa R.-A. Pyrosequencing reveals effect of increased pCO2 on bacterial community shifts in response to glucose addition in Fram Strait seawater mesocosms. Manuscript submitted to FEMS Microbiology Ecology. Full-text not available in BORA.Paper V: Töpper B., Thingstad T.F., Sandaa R.A. Effects of differences in organic supply on bacterial diversity subject to viral lysis. Manuscript submitted to FEMS Microbiology Ecology. Full-text not available in BORA.