Diversity of Arctic pelagic Bacteria with an emphasis on photoheterotrophs: a review
The Arctic Ocean is a unique marine environment with respect to seasonality of light, temperature, perennial ice cover, and strong stratification. Other important distinctive features are the influence of extensive continental shelves and its interactions with Atlantic and Pacific water masses and freshwater from sea ice melt and rivers. These characteristics have major influence on the biological and biogeochemical processes occurring in this complex natural system. Heterotrophic bacteria are crucial components of marine food webs and have key roles in controlling carbon fluxes in the oceans. Although it was previously thought that these organisms relied on the organic carbon in seawater for all of their energy needs, several recent discoveries now suggest that pelagic bacteria can depart from a strictly heterotrophic lifestyle by obtaining energy through unconventional mechanisms that are linked to the penetration of sunlight into surface waters. These photoheterotrophic mechanisms may play a significant role in the energy budget in the euphotic zone of marine environments. Modifications of light and carbon availability triggered by climate change may favor the photoheterotrophic lifestyle. Here we review advances in our knowledge of the diversity of marine photoheterotrophic bacteria and discuss their significance in the Arctic Ocean gained in the framework of the Malina cruise.