Research into biotic interactions has been a core theme of ecology for over a century. However, despite the obvious role that biota play in the global carbon cycle, the effects of biotic interactions on carbon pools and fluxes are poorly understood. Here we develop a conceptual framework that illustrates the importance of biotic interactions in regulating carbon cycling based on a literature review and a quantitative synthesis by means of meta-analysis. Our study focuses on blue carbon ecosystems?vegetated coastal ecosystems that function as the most effective long-term CO2 sinks of the biosphere. We demonstrate that a multitude of mutualistic, competitive and consumer?resource interactions between plants, animals and microbiota exert strong effects on carbon cycling across various spatial scales ranging from the rhizosphere to the landscape scale. Climate change-sensitive abiotic factors modulate the strength of biotic-interaction effects on carbon fluxes, suggesting that the importance of biota-mediated carbon cycling will change under future climatic conditions. Strong effects of biotic interactions on carbon cycling imply that biosphere-climate feedbacks may not be sufficiently represented in current Earth system models. Inclusion of new functional groups in these models, and new approaches to simplify species interactions, may thus improve the predictions of biotic effects on the global climate.