Hydrothermal plumes as hotspots for deep-ocean heterotrophic microbial biomass production

Carbon budgets of hydrothermal plumes result from the balance between carbon sinks through plume chemoautotrophic processes and carbon release via microbial respiration. However, the lack of comprehensive analysis of the metabolic processes and biomass production rates hinders an accurate estimate of their contribution to the deep ocean carbon cycle. Here, we use a biogeochemical model to estimate the autotrophic and heterotrophic production rates of microbial communities in hydrothermal plumes and validate it with in situ data. We show how substrate limitation might prevent net chemolithoautotrophic production in hydrothermal plumes. Elevated prokaryotic heterotrophic production rates (up to 0.9 gCm−2y−1) compared to the surrounding seawater could lead to 0.05 GtCy−1 of C-biomass produced through chemoorganotrophy within hydrothermal plumes, similar to the Particulate Organic Carbon (POC) export fluxes reported in the deep ocean. We conclude that hydrothermal plumes must be accounted for as significant deep sources of POC in ocean carbon budgets.

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Cathalot Cecile, Roussel Erwan, Perhirin Antoine, Redou Creff Vanessa, Donval Jean-Pierre, Guyader Vivien, Roullet Guillaume, Gula Jonathan, Tamburini Christian, Garel Marc, Godfroy Anne, Sarradin Pierre-Marie, Redou (2021). Hydrothermal plumes as hotspots for deep-ocean heterotrophic microbial biomass production. Nature Communications. 12 (1). 6861 (10p.). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26877-6, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00736/84818/

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