Ocean acidification altered microbial functional potential in the Arctic Ocean

Ocean acidification (OA) has considerably changed the metabolism and structure of plankton communities in the ocean. Evaluation of the response of the marine bacterioplankton community to OA is critical for understanding the future direction of bacterioplankton-mediated biogeochemical processes in the ocean. Understanding the diversity of functional genes is important for linking the microbial community to ecological and biogeochemical processes. However, the influence of OA on the functional diversity of bacterioplankton remains unclear. Using high-throughput functional gene microarray technology (GeoChip 4), we investigated the functional gene structure and diversity of bacterioplankton under three different pCO2 levels (control: 175 μatm, medium: 675 μatm, and high: 1085 μatm) in a large Arctic Ocean mesocosm experiment. We observed a higher evenness of microbial functional genes under elevated pCO2 compared with under low pCO2. OA induced a more stable community as evaluated by decreased dissimilarity of functional gene structure with increased pCO2. Molecular ecological networks under elevated pCO2 became more complex and stable, supporting the central ecological tenet that complexity begets stability. In particular, increased average abundances were found under elevated pCO2 for many genes involved in key metabolic processes, including carbon degradation, methane oxidization, nitrogen fixation, dissimilatory nitrite/nitrate reduction, and sulfide reduction processes. Altogether, these results indicate a significant influence of OA on the metabolism potential of bacterioplankton in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, our study suggests that biogeochemical cycling mediated by these microbes may be altered by the OA in the future.

Wang Y., Zhang R., Yang Y., Tu Q., Zhou J. & Jiao N., in press. Ocean acidification altered microbial functional potential in the Arctic Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography. Article.

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