Secondary production and priming reshape the organic matter composition in marine sediments

QZ Zhu, Xiuran Yin, H Taubner, J Wendt, MW Friedrich, M Elvert, KU Hinrichs, JJ Middelburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Organic matter (OM) transformations in marine sediments play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. However, secondary production and priming have been ignored in marine biogeochemistry. By incubating shelf sediments with various 13C-labeled algal substrates for 400 days, we show that ~65% of the lipids and ~20% of the proteins were mineralized by numerically minor heterotrophic bacteria as revealed by RNA stable isotope probing. Up to 11% of carbon from the algal lipids was transformed into the biomass of secondary producers as indicated by 13C incorporation in amino acids. This biomass turned over throughout the experiment, corresponding to dynamic microbial shifts. Algal lipid addition accelerated indigenous OM degradation by 2.5 to 6 times. This priming was driven by diverse heterotrophic bacteria and sulfur- and iron-cycling bacteria and, in turn, resulted in extra secondary production, which exceeded that stimulated by added substrates. These interactions between degradation, secondary production, and priming govern the eventual fate of OM in marine sediments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadm8096
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScience advances
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Secondary production and priming reshape the organic matter composition in marine sediments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this