Moran et al., 2022, Nature Microbiology

Microbial Metabolies in the Marine Carbon Cycle

M. A. Moran, E. B. Kujawinski, W. F. Schroer, S. A. Amin, N. R. Bates, E. M. Bertrand, R. Braakman, C. T. Brown, M. W. Covert, S. C. Doney, S. T. Dyhrman, A. S. Edison, A. M. Eren, N. M. Levine, L. Li, A. C. Ross, M. A. Saito, A. E. Santoro, D. Segré, A. Shade, M. B. Sullivan, A. Vardi

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One-quarter of photosynthesis-derived carbon on Earth rapidly cycles through a set of short-lived seawater metabolites that is generated from the activities of marine phytoplankton, bacteria, grazers, and viruses. Here, we discuss the sources of microbial metabolites in the surface ocean, their roles in ecology and biogeochemistry, and approaches that can be used to analyse them from chemistry, biology, modelling and data science. Although microbial-derived metabolites account for only a minor fraction of the total reservoir of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC), their flux and fate underpins the central role of the ocean in sustaining life on Earth.