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A new mathematical model to explore microbial processes and their constraints in phytoplankton colonies and sinking marine aggregates

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Moradi,  Nasrollah
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Kuypers,  Marcel M.M.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Khalili,  Arzhang
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Moradi, N., Liu, B., Iversen, M., Kuypers, M. M., Ploug, H., & Khalili, A. (2018). A new mathematical model to explore microbial processes and their constraints in phytoplankton colonies and sinking marine aggregates. Science Advances, 4(10): eaat1991. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat1991.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-B8BC-A
Abstract
N-2-fixing colonies of cyanobacteria and aggregates of phytoplankton and detritus sinking hundreds of meters per day are instrumental for the ocean's sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere. Understanding of small-scale microbial processes associated with phytoplankton colonies and aggregates is therefore crucial for understanding large-scale biogeochemical processes in the ocean. Phytoplankton colonies and sinking aggregates are characterized by steep concentration gradients of gases and nutrients in their interior. Here, we present a mechanistic mathematical model designed to perform modeling of small-scale fluxes and evaluate the physical, chemical, and biological constraints of processes that co-occur in phytoplankton colonies and sinking porous aggregates. The model accurately reproduced empirical measurements of O-2 concentrations and fluxes measured in sinking aggregates. Common theoretical assumptions of either constant concentration or constant flux over the entire surface did not apply to sinking aggregates. Consequently, previous theoretical models overestimate O-2 flux in these aggregates by as high as 15-fold.