Seamounts, often rising hundreds of metres above surrounding seafloor, obstruct the flow of deep-ocean water. While the retention of deep-water by seamounts is predicted from ocean circulation models, its empirical validation has been hampered by large scale and slow rate of the interaction. To overcome these limitations we use the growth of planktonic bacteria to assess the retention time of deep-ocean water by a seamount. The selected Tropic Seamount in the North-Eastern Atlantic is representative for the majority of isolated seamounts, which do not affect the surface ocean waters. We prove deep-water is retained by the seamount by measuring 2.4× higher bacterial concentrations in the seamount-associated or ‘sheath’-water than in deep-ocean water unaffected by seamounts. Genomic analyses of flow-sorted, dominant sheath-water bacteria confirm their planktonic origin, whilst proteomic analyses of the sheath-water bacteria, isotopically labelled in situ, indicate their slow growth. According to our radiotracer experiments, it takes the sheath-water bacterioplankton 1.5 years to double their concentration. Therefore, the seamount should retain the deep-ocean water for 1.8 years for the deep-ocean bacterioplankton to grow to the 2.4× higher concentration in the sheath-water. We propose that turbulent mixing of the seamount sheath-water stimulates bacterioplankton growth by increasing cell encounter rate with ambient dissolved organic molecules.
Giljan, G., Kamennaya, N. A., Otto, A., Becher, D., Ellrott, A., Meyer, V., Murton, B. J., Fuchs, B. M., Amann, R. I., & Zubkov, M. V. (2020). Bacterioplankton reveal years-long retention of Atlantic deep-ocean water by the Tropic Seamount. Scientific Reports, 10(1), [4715 (2020)]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61417-0