Microbial biodiversity controls on ocean elemental ratios


One of the most fundamental relationships in biological oceanography is the Redfield ratio, or the relative amount of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in seawater. Although this ratio is nearly constant at large spatial scales, it may vary substantially at small scales, and the biological mechanisms controlling this ratio are unclear. These mechanisms have important consequences for nutrient cycling and carbon storage in the ocean. In collaboration with Adam Martiny and other researchers, we are investigating the factors that determine the stoichiometry of bacterial biomass and extracellular enzyme production in seawater from sites around the globe. We aim to link enzyme production with the nutrient demands of specific microbial taxa and explore the consequences for nutrient regeneration in marine ecosystems.

Funded by NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity

© Steven Allison 2012