Effect of ocean acidification on the diversity and activity of heterotrophic marine microorganisms

The effects of ocean acidification on microbial processes are very poorly understood despite the fact that marine viruses and heterotrophic microorganisms play multiple roles in the functioning of marine ecosystems. Some information is available for the pelagic realm but the effects on benthic systems and on the interactions between microorganisms and marine animals remain unknown.. Aggregates are hotspots of microbial activity and a main component of vertical fluxes. Since their formation is often stimulated at higher pCO2 levels, the net burial of carbon could be affected. Only neutral and positive effects were found on bacterial activity. Changes in the viral and microbial community composition were often observed in perturbation experiments. Since most effects of elevated pCO2 on microorganisms are poorly known and evidence is sometimes contradictory, the implications are highly speculative. Two non-exclusive scenarios are proposed, one resulting in a stimulation of carbon export to the deep-sea, the other in an increased remineralization of organic matter in the surface ocean and thus a reduced export. The net balance of these scenarios remains unknown.

Weinbauer M. G., Mari X., & Gattuso J.-P., 2011. Effect of ocean acidification on the diversity and activity of heterotrophic marine microorganisms. In: Gattuso J.-P. & Hansson L. (Eds.), Ocean acidification, pp. 83-98. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Book.


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