ABSTRACT: We targeted the warm, subsurface waters of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS) to investigate processes that are linked to the chemical composition and cycling of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in seawater. The apparent respiration of semi-labile DOC accounted for 27 ± 18% of oxygen consumption in EMS mesopelagic and bathypelagic waters; this value is higher than that observed in the bathypelagic open ocean, so the chemical signals that accompany remineralization of DOC may thus be more pronounced in this region. Ultrafiltered dissolved organic matter (UDOM) collected from four deep basins at depths ranging from 2 to 4350 m exhibited bulk chemical (1H-NMR) and molecular level (amino acid and monosaccharide) abundances, composition, and spatial distribution that were similar to previous reports, except for a sample collected in the deep waters of the N. Aegean Sea that had been isolated for over a decade. The amino acid component of UDOM was tightly correlated with apparent oxygen utilization and prokaryotic activity, indicating its relationship with remineralization processes that occur over a large range of timescales. Principal component analyses of relative mole percentages of monomers revealed that oxygen consumption and prokaryotic activity were correlated with variability in amino acid distributions but not well correlated with monosaccharide distributions. Taken together, this study elucidates key relationships between the chemical composition of DOM and heterotrophic metabolism.
Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.