Crenarchaea and phytoplankton coupling in sedimentary archives: Common trigger or metabolic dependence?

Susanne Fietz, Alfredo Martínez-Garcia, Gemma Rueda, Vicky L. Peck, Carme Huguet, Marina Escala and Antoni Rosell-Melé

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(5), 2011, 1907-1916 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.5.1907

ABSTRACT: The concentrations of chlorins (chlorophyll transformation products indicative of phytoplankton production) and crenarchaeol (a marker for Crenarchaea abundance) are significantly positively correlated (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient rs > 0.75) in four core records from freshwater (Lake Baikal) and marine settings (Southern, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans). This suggests a close relationship between Crenarchaea abundance and phytoplankton production. Degradation and transport mechanisms, as well as a common environmental trigger, may in part account for our observations, but these mechanisms alone cannot fully explain them. Instead our findings point to a metabolic dependence of Crenarchaea on resources released by phytoplankton, such as organic carbon or ammonium.

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