The effect of elevated seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) on the activity of a natural bacterioplankton community in an Arctic fjord system was investigated by a mesocosm perturbation study in the frame of the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA). A pCO2 range of 175–1085 μatm was set up in nine mesocosms deployed in the Kongsfjorden (Svalbard). The bacterioplankton communities responded to rising chlorophyll a concentrations after a lag phase of only a few days with increasing protein production and extracellular enzyme activity and revealed a close coupling of heterotrophic bacterial activity to phytoplankton productivity in this experiment. The natural extracellular enzyme assemblages showed increased activity in response to moderate acidification. A decrease in seawater pH of 0.5 units roughly doubled rates of β-glucosidase and leucine-aminopeptidase. Activities of extracellular enzymes in the mesocosms were directly related to both seawater pH and primary production. Also primary production and bacterial protein production in the mesocosms at different pCO2 were positively correlated. Therefore, it can be suggested that the efficient heterotrophic carbon utilization in this Arctic microbial food web had the potential to counteract increased phytoplankton production that was achieved under elevated pCO2 in this study. However, our results also show that the transfer of beneficial pCO2-related effects on the cellular bacterial metabolism to the scale of community activity and organic matter degradation can be mitigated by the top-down control of bacterial abundances in natural microbial communities.
Piontek J., Borchard C., Sperling M., Schulz K. G., Riebesell U. & Engel A., 2012. Response of bacterioplankton activity in an Arctic fjord system to elevated pCO2: results from a mesocosm perturbation study. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 10467-10511. Article.