Prokaryotic abundance and heterotrophic metabolism in the deep Mediterranean Sea

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Rosabruna La Ferla *
Maurizio Azzaro
Gabriella Caruso
Luis Salvador Monticelli
Giovanna Maimone
Renata Zaccone
Theodore T. Packard
(*) Corresponding Author:
Rosabruna La Ferla |


A synthesis of field data carried out in the Mediterranean Sea are presented, aimed at contributing to the knowledge of three prokaryotic-mediated processes and their implications on the Carbon cycle. The distribution of exoenzymatic activities, secondary production and respiration rates was studied together with the prokaryotic abundances. Particular attention was paid to the meso- and bathypelagic layers which play an important role in the Mediterranean carbon cycle. The study is noteworthy because of its large spatial scale spanning the entire Mediterranean Sea over 4 years. In addition, two Atlantic stations in front of the Gibraltar Strait were investigated. The longitudinal distribution of prokaryotic activities and abundance along the MED showed different trends along the depthlayers. In particular, higher exoenzymatic rates were detected in the Eastern basin compared to the Western one; carbon respiration rate showed patterns variable with the sampling periods in the epipelagic and bathypelagic layers, while a consistent Westwards decreasing trend at the mesopelagic layers occurred. Specific enzyme activities per cell showed high values in the deepest layers for leucine aminopeptidase. Comparison with Carbon respiration rate data collected before the 2000s showed changing patterns of microbial heterotrophic processes in the Mediterranean Sea.

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