Arctic Ocean Diversity Synthesis

Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 5-12

First online:

Picoplankton diversity in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas

  • Connie LovejoyAffiliated withDépartement de biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS) and Québec-Océan, Université Laval Email author 
  • , Pierre E. GalandAffiliated withUPMC, Univ Paris 06 and CNRS, FRE 3350, LECOB, Observatoire Océanologique
  • , David L. KirchmanAffiliated withSchool of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware

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Microbes, which are organisms that are visible only with a microscope, drive global biogeochemical cycling and CO2-fixing forms are the base of the marine arctic food web. Two of the three domains of life, Bacteria and Archaea, are exclusively microbial, and microbes account for the majority of diversity within the third domain, Eucarya. Although morphological diversity among the smallest microbes is limited, phylogenetic diversity among microbes is vast. With each of several major technological advances, estimates of global microbial diversity increase by orders of magnitude. The Arctic is no exception, with most major groups of marine microbes having been found in arctic marine waters using molecular biological techniques. Here we provide a brief overview of microbial diversity revealed by environmental surveys of the small subunit rRNA gene (SS rRNA), which is the most widely used marker for identifying microbes. Similar to larger phytoplankton identified morphologically, small heterotrophic prokaryotes and photosynthetic eukaryotes in the Arctic are a mixture of uniquely arctic taxa and more cosmopolitan species. Among Bacteria, Proteobacteria are predominant in surface and deep waters as with other oceans. However, the recent massively parallel sequencing of the SS rRNA gene has revealed that at finer taxonomic scales arctic bacterial and archaeal communities also differ from their temperate counterparts, suggesting endemicity as well.


Arctic Ocean Bacteria Archaea Eucarya Biodiversity Gene surveys Pyrosequencing