Interactions between the microbial network and the organic matter in the Southern Ocean: impacts on the biological carbon pump / Interactions entre le réseau microbien et la matière organique dans l'Océan Antarctique : impacts sur la pompe biologique à carbone

by Dumont, Isabelle

Abstract (Summary)
The Southern Ocean (ca. 20% of the world ocean surface) is a key place for the regulation of Earth climate thanks to its capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by physico-chemical and biological mechanisms. The biological carbon pump is a major pathway of absorption of CO2 through which the CO2 incorporated into autotrophic microorganisms in surface waters is transferred to deep waters. This process is influenced by the extent of the primary production and by the intensity of the remineralization of organic matter along the water column. So, the annual cycle of sea ice, through its in situ production and remineralization processes but also, through the release of microorganisms, organic and inorganic nutrients (in particular iron)into the ocean has an impact on the carbon cycle of the Southern Ocean, notably by promoting the initiation of phytoplanktonic blooms at time of ice melting. The present work focussed on the distribution of organic matter (OM) and its interactions with the microbial network (algae, bacteria and protozoa) in sea ice and ocean, with a special attention to the factors which regulate the biological carbon pump of the Southern Ocean. This thesis gathers data collected from a) late winter to summer in the Western Pacific sector, Western Weddell Sea and Bellingshausen Sea during three sea ice cruises ARISE, ISPOL-drifting station and SIMBA-drifting station and b) summer in the Sub-Antarctic and Polar Front Zone during the oceanographic cruise SAZ-Sense. The sea ice covers were typical of first-year pack ice with thickness ranging between 0.3 and 1.2 m, and composed of granular and columnar ice. Sea ice temperature ranging between -8.9°C and -0.4°C, brines volume ranging between 2.9 to 28.2% and brines salinity from 10 to >100 were observed. These extreme physicochemical factors experienced by the microorganisms trapped into the semi-solid sea ice matrix therefore constitute an extreme change as compared to the open ocean. Sea ice algae were mainly composed of diatoms but autotrophic flagellates (such as dinoflagellates or Phaeocystis sp.) were also typically found in surface ice layers. Maximal algal biomass was usually observed in the bottom ice layers except during SIMBA where the maxima was localised in the top ice layers likely because of the snow and ice thickness which limit the light available in the ice cover. During early spring, the algal growth was controlled by the space availability (i.e. brine volume) while in spring/summer (ISPOL, SIMBA) the major nutrients availability inside sea ice may have controlled algal growth. At all seasons, high concentrations of dissolved and particulate organic matter were measured in sea ice as compared to the water column. Dissolved monomers (saccharides and amino acids) were accumulated in sea ice, in particular in winter. During spring and summer, polysaccharides constitute the main fraction of the dissolved saccharides pool. High concentrations of transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP), mainly constituted with saccharides, were present and their gel properties greatly influence the internal habitat of sea ice, by retaining the nutrients and by preventing the protozoa grazing pressure, inducing therefore an algal accumulation. The composition as well as the vertical distribution of OM in sea ice was linked to sea ice algae. Besides, the distribution of microorganisms and organic compounds in the sea ice was also greatly influenced by the thermodynamics of the sea ice cover, as evidenced during a melting period for ISPOL and during a floodfreeze cycle for SIMBA. The bacteria distribution in the sea ice was not correlated with those of algae and organic matter. Indeed, the utilization of the accumulated organic matter by bacteria seemed to be limited by an external factor such as temperature, salinity or toxins rather than by the nature of the organic substrates, which are partly composed of labile monomeric saccharides. Thus the disconnection of the microbial loop leading to the OM accumulation was highlighted in sea ice. In addition the biofilm formed by TEP was also involved in the retention of cells and other compounds(DOM, POM, and inorganic nutrients such as phosphate and iron) to the brine channels walls and thus in the timing of release of ice constituents when ice melts. The sequence of release in marginal ice zone, as studied in a microcosm experiments realized in controlled and trace-metal clean conditions, was likely favourable to the development of blooms in the marginal ice zone. Moreover microorganisms derived from sea ice (mainly <10 µm) seems able to thrive and grow in the water column as also the supply of organic nutrients and Fe seems to benefit to the pelagic microbial community. Finally, the influence of the remineralization of organic matter by heterotrophic bacterioplankton on carbon export and biological carbon pump efficiency was investigated in the epipelagic (0-100 m) and mesopelagic(100-700 m) zones during the summer in the sub-Antarctic and Polar Front zones (SAZ and PFZ) of the Australian sector (Southern Ocean). Opposite to sea ice, bacterial biomass and activities followed Chl a and organic matter distributions. Bacterial abundance, biomass and activities drastically decreased below depths of 100-200 m. Nevertheless, depth-integrated rates through the thickness of the different water masses showed that the mesopelagic contribution of bacteria represents a non-negligible fraction, in particular in a diatom-dominated system./
This document abstract is also available in French.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Gillan, David; Dehairs, Frank; Chou, Lei; Servais, Pierre; Schoemann, Véronique; Tison, Jean-Louis; Lancelot, Christiane; Becquevort, Sylvie

School:Université libre de Bruxelles

School Location:Belgium

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:saccharides Antarctic sea ice


Date of Publication:07/03/2009

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