Dissolution of calcite in the twilight zone: Bacterial control of dissolution of sinking planktonic carbonates is unlikely

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Abstract

We investigated the ability of bacterial communities to colonize and dissolve two biogenic carbonates (Foraminifera and oyster shells). Bacterial carbonate dissolution in the upper water column is postulated to be driven by metabolic activity of bacteria directly colonising carbonate surfaces and the subsequent development of acidic microenvironments. We employed a combination of microsensor measurements, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and image analysis and molecular documentation of colonising bacteria to monitor microbial processes and document changes in shell surface topography. Bacterial communities rapidly colonised shell surfaces, forming dense biofilms with extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) deposits. Despite this, we found no evidence of bacterially mediated carbonate dissolution. Dissolution was not indicated by Ca 2+ microprofiles, nor was changes in shell surface structure related to the presence of colonizing bacteria. Given the short time (days) settling carbonate material is actually in the twilight zone (500-1000 m), it is highly unlikely that microbial metabolic activity on directly colonised shells plays a significant role in dissolving settling carbonates in the shallow ocean. © 2011 Bissett et al.

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Bissett, A., Neu, T. R., & de Beer, D. (2011). Dissolution of calcite in the twilight zone: Bacterial control of dissolution of sinking planktonic carbonates is unlikely. PLoS ONE, 6(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026404

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