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Bacterial response to seasonal changes in labile organic matter composition on the continental shelf and bathyal sediments of the Cretan Sea
Danovaro, R.; Marrale, D.; Dell'Anno, A.; Della Croce, N.; Tselepides, A.; Fabiano, M. (2000). Bacterial response to seasonal changes in labile organic matter composition on the continental shelf and bathyal sediments of the Cretan Sea. Prog. Oceanogr. 46(2-4): 345-366
In: Progress in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford,New York,. ISSN 0079-6611, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Danovaro, R., more
  • Marrale, D.
  • Dell'Anno, A.
  • Della Croce, N.
  • Tselepides, A., more
  • Fabiano, M.

    Bacterial abundance, biomass and cell size were studied in the oligotrophic sediments of the Cretan Sea (Eastern Mediterranean), in order to investigate their response to the seasonal varying organic matter (OM) inputs. Sediment samples were collected on a seasonal basis along a transect of seven stations (ranging from 40 to 1570 m depth) using a multiple-corer. Bacterial parameters were related to changes in chloroplastic pigment equivalents (CPE), the biochemical composition (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates) of the sedimentary organic matter and the OM flux measured at a fixed station over the deep basin (1570 m depth). The sediments of the Cretan Sea represent a nutrient depleted ecosystem characterised by a poor quality organic matter. All sedimentary organic compounds were found to vary seasonally, and changes were more evident on the continental shelf than in deeper sediments. Bacterial abundance and biomass in the sediments of the Cretan Sea (ranging from 1.02 to 4.59 × 108 cells g-1 equivalent to 8.7 and 38.7 µgC g-1) were quite high and their distribution appeared to be closely related to the input of fresh organic material. Bacterial abundance and biomass were sensitive to changes in nutrient availability, which also controls the average cell size and the frequency of dividing cells. Bacterial abundance increased up to 3-fold between August '94 and February '95 in response to the increased amount of sedimentary proteins and CPE, indicating that benthic bacteria were constrained more by changes in quality rather than the quantity of the sedimentary organic material. Bacterial responses to the food inputs were clearly detectable down to 10 cm depth. The distribution of labile organic compounds in the sediments appeared to influence the vertical patterns of bacterial abundance and biomass. Cell size decreased significantly with water depth. Bacterial abundance and biomass were characterised by clear seasonal changes in response to seasonal OM pulses. The strong coupling between protein flux and bacterial biomass together with the strong bacterial dominance over the total biomass suggest that the major part of the carbon flow was channelled through the bacteria and the benthic microbial loop.

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