University Of Tasmania

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Biotic and abiotic retention, recycling and remineralization of metals in the ocean

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 15:37 authored by Philip BoydPhilip Boyd, Ellwood, MJ, Tagliabue, A, Twining, BS
Trace metals shape both the biogeochemical functioning and biological structure of oceanic provinces. Trace metal biogeochemistry has primarily focused on modes of external supply of metals from aeolian, hydrothermal, sedimentary and other sources. However, metals also undergo internal transformations such as abiotic and biotic retention, recycling and remineralization. The role of these internal transformations in metal biogeochemical cycling is now coming into focus. First, the retention of metals by biota in the surface ocean for days, weeks or months depends on taxon-specific metal requirements of phytoplankton, and on their ultimate fate: That is, viral lysis, senescence, grazing and/or export to depth. Rapid recycling of metals in the surface ocean can extend seasonal productivity by maintaining higher levels of metal bioavailability compared to the influence of external metal input alone. As metal-containing organic particles are exported from the surface ocean, different metals exhibit distinct patterns of remineralization with depth. These patterns are mediated by a wide range of physicochemical and microbial processes such as the ability of particles to sorb metals, and are influenced by the mineral and organic characteristics of sinking particles. We conclude that internal metal transformations play an essential role in controlling metal bioavailability, phytoplankton distributions and the subsurface resupply of metals.


Publication title

Nature Geoscience








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean)

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