Significant dark inorganic carbon fixation in the euphotic zone of an oligotrophic sea

Tom Reich, Natalia Belkin, Guy Sisma-Ventura, Ilana Berman-Frank, Eyal Rahav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estimates of primary productivity have traditionally disregarded dark inorganic carbon fixation by marine microorganisms. Currently, only limited data are available from different systems on this potentially ecologically important process. We present monthly dark inorganic carbon fixation and photosynthetic rates from the euphotic layer of the northern Gulf of Aqaba collected over a decade between 2010 and 2020. Averaged dark inorganic carbon fixation rates from surface to 100 m depth, ranged from 99 to 173 mg C m−2 d−1, which corresponds to ~ 43% of the annual primary productivity at this location. The lowest dark inorganic carbon fixation rates were found during winter, contributing ~ 7.5% of the integrated primary productivity. During the oligotrophic summer, dark inorganic carbon fixation comprised a larger fraction of the integrated primary productivity estimated as ~ 12%. In accordance, dark inorganic carbon fixation contributed ~ 6% to the particulate organic carbon flux during the winter and ~ 30% during summertime. Complimentary nutrient-enrichment bioassays of seawater from 5 m show that dissolved organic nutrient enrichment (P and C based) significantly elevates dark inorganic carbon fixation, whereas addition of dissolved inorganic nutrients ((Formula presented.), (Formula presented.), or both) significantly increased photosynthesis but to a lesser extent dark inorganic carbon fixation. These results suggest that dark inorganic carbon fixation may be an important biochemical process throughout the euphotic zone of oligotrophic seas, and thus should be incorporated into oceanic carbon production estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1142
Number of pages14
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes

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© 2024 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.


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