Dissolved organic carbon and bacterial populations in the gelatinous surface microlayer of a Norwegian fjord mesocosm


  • Editor: Aharon Oren

Correspondence: J. Colin Murrell, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK. Tel.: +44 24 7652 3553; fax: +44 24 7652 3568; e-mail: j.c.murrell@warwick.ac.uk


The sea surface microlayer is the interfacial boundary layer between the marine environment and the troposphere. Surface microlayer samples were collected during a fjord mesocosm experiment to study microbial assemblage dynamics within the surface microlayer during a phytoplankton bloom. Transparent exopolymer particles were significantly enriched in the microlayer samples, supporting the concept of a gelatinous surface film. Dissolved organic carbon and bacterial cell numbers (determined by flow cytometry) were weakly enriched in the microlayer samples. However, the numbers of Bacteria 16S rRNA genes (determined by quantitative real-time PCR) were more variable, probably due to variable numbers of bacterial cells attached to particles. The enrichment of transparent exopolymer particles in the microlayer and the subsequent production of a gelatinous biofilm have implications on air–sea gas transfer and the partitioning of organic carbon in surface waters.