Molecular Features of Dissolved Organic Matter Produced by Picophytoplankton

Xiufeng Ma, Maureen Coleman and Jacob Waldbauer, University of Chicago, Geophysical Sciences, Chicago, IL, United States
Compounds derived from picophytoplankton through exudation, grazing and viral lysis contribute a large proportion of labile DOM to the ocean. This labile DOM is rapidly turned over by and exchanged among microbial communities. However, identifying labile DOM compounds and tracking their sources and sinks in ocean ecosystems is complicated by the presence of non-labile DOM which has a significantly larger reservoir size and longer residence time. This study focuses on investigating labile DOM produced by single-strain cyanobacteria isolates via different modes of release and varied nutrient conditions. DOM compounds are analyzed by high-resolution mass spectrometry. Statistical comparison between intracellular and extracellular molecular data of Synechococcus WH7803 revealed noticeable differences in terms of compound number, size and structure. Incubation experiments using combined whole seawater and diluent of grazer-free or viral-free water at the BATS time-series station in Sargasso Sea yielded complimentary data to be synthesized with data from lab cultures. The compositional features of each type of DOM could serve as future proxies for different modes of DOM production in the oceans.