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Temporal and depth-related differences in prokaryotic communities in abyssal sediments associated with particulate organic carbon flux

Deep Sea Research Part I Oceanographic Research Papers
DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2012.07.010
  • Bacterial And Crenarchaeal Community Composition
  • Poc Flux
  • Benthic–Pelagic Coupling
  • Archaeology


Abstract Particulate organic carbon (POC) flux is hypothesized to be the most important parameter influencing activity and biomass of prokaryotic and faunal communities in the abyssal seafloor, but there is little evidence of POC-related changes in community composition of prokaryotes. This hypothesis was tested by 16S rRNA-gene-based analysis of prokaryotic DNA and RNA extracted from abyssal seafloor sediments during periods of low and high POC flux. Fingerprint analysis of prokaryotic communities indicated that approximately 50% of the phylotypes were identical at each sediment horizon, regardless of the temporal variations in POC flux. However, phylotypes were also detected that represented a relatively dynamic component of these communities and were probably strongly influenced by the prevalent POC flux regime. These patterns were also detected in deeper sediment horizons. DNA- and RNA-based community profiles differed, although both approaches had similar community dynamics. Crenarchaeota showed the strongest shift in community composition in response to availability of labile POC, indicating that POC flux may have a more pronounced impact on crenarchaeal communities than on bacterial communities. The high number of phylotypes common to each sample time suggests that both standing stock and active prokaryotic communities are stable.

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