Bacterial response to dust pulses in the western Mediterranean: Implications for carbon cycling in the oligotropic ocean

Elvira Pulido-Villena, Thibaut Wagener, Cécile Guieu

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The bacterial response to dust pulses was investigated in the Mediterranean Sea through a combined field and experimental study. During the stratification period, characterized by a nutrient-starved mixed layer isolated from the depth, a Saharan dust event (2.6 g m-2) induced a 1.5-fold increase in bacterial abundance (BA) and a 2-fold increase in bacterial respiration (BR). Experimental dust additions (equivalent to fluxes of 5 and 20 g m-2) to bacteria natural assemblages also stimulated BA (between 2- and 4-fold increases) and BR (between 1.5- and 3-fold increases). Pooling the in situ and expenmental data, linear relationships were obtained between dust concentration and BA (r2 = 0.86; p < 0.01) and BR (r2 = 0.89; p < 0.001). The dust-induced bacterial bloom resulted in a C mineralization of 0.5 g m-2, which may represent up to 70% of bloavailable DOC annually exported to the depth in the Mediterranean. These results demonstrate that heterotrophic: bacteria may play a much larger role in the connections between dust and the ocean carbon cycle than previously recognized and highlight the need for a more accurate understanding of how dust pulses may affect C export in the oligotrophic ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberGB1020
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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