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Basin-scale variability of microbial methanol uptake in the Atlantic Ocean

Sargeant, Stephanie L; Murrell, J Colin; Nightingale, Philip N; Dixon, Joanna D

Basin-scale variability of microbial methanol uptake in the Atlantic Ocean Thumbnail


J Colin Murrell

Philip N Nightingale

Joanna D Dixon


© 2018 Author(s). Methanol is a climate-active gas and the most abundant oxygenated volatile organic compound (OVOC) in the atmosphere and seawater. Marine methylotrophs are aerobic bacteria that utilise methanol from seawater as a source of carbon (assimilation) and/or energy (dissimilation). A few spatially limited studies have previously reported methanol oxidation rates in seawater; however, the basin-wide ubiquity of marine microbial methanol utilisation remains unknown. This study uniquely combines seawater 14C labelled methanol tracer studies with 16S rRNA pyrosequencing to investigate variability in microbial methanol dissimilation and known methanol-utilising bacteria throughout a meridional transect of the Atlantic Ocean between 47° N to 39° S. Microbial methanol dissimilation varied between 0.05 and 1.68nmolL-1h-1 in the top 200m of the Atlantic Ocean and showed significant variability between biogeochemical provinces. The highest rates of methanol dissimilation were found in the northern subtropical gyre (average 0.99±0.41nmolL-1h-1), which were up to 8 times greater than other Atlantic regions. Microbial methanol dissimilation rates displayed a significant inverse correlation with heterotrophic bacterial production (determined using 3H-leucine). Despite significant depth stratification of bacterial communities, methanol dissimilation rates showed much greater variability between oceanic provinces compared to depth. There were no significant differences in rates between samples collected under light and dark environmental conditions. The variability in the numbers of SAR11 (16S rRNA gene sequences) were estimated to explain approximately 50% of the changes in microbial methanol dissimilation rates. We estimate that SAR11 cells in the Atlantic Ocean account for between 0.3% and 59% of the rates of methanol dissimilation in Atlantic waters, compared to

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 28, 2018
Publication Date Aug 28, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2018
Journal Biogeosciences
Print ISSN 1726-4170
Electronic ISSN 1726-4189
Publisher European Geosciences Union
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 16
Pages 5155-5167
Keywords basin-scale, variability, microbial, methanol uptake, Atlantic Ocean
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Sep 3, 2018


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