Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) are formed by the assembly of dissolved precursors, mainly mono and polysaccharides (DMCHO and DPCHO) that are released by microorganisms. Although TEP formation plays a significant role in carbon export to deep waters and can affect gas exchange at the sea surface, simultaneous measurements of TEP and their precursors in natural waters have been scantly reported. In this study, we described the spatial (vertical and regional) distribution of TEP, DMCHO and DPCHO in a region located around the Antarctic Peninsula, assessed their contribution to the total organic carbon pool, and explored their relationships with phytoplankton (with chlorophyll a (chl a) as a proxy) and bacteria. TEP concentration ranged from undetectable values to 48.9 μg XG eq L- 1 with a mean value of 15.4 μg XG eq L- 1 (11.6 μg TEP-C L- 1). DMCHO and DPCHO showed average values of 4.3 μmol C L- 1 and 8.6 μmol C L- 1, respectively. We did not find simple relationships between the concentrations of TEP and dissolved carbohydrates, but a negative correlation between DMCHO and DPCHO was observed. Chl a was the best regressor of TEP concentration in waters within the upper mixed layer, while bacterial production was the best regressor of TEP concentration below the mixed layer, underlining the direct link between these particles and bacterial activity in deep waters.
- Southern Ocean
- Transparent exopolymer particles
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Water Science and Technology