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Effects of hydrostatic pressure on marine microorganisms
Morita, R.Y. (1967). Effects of hydrostatic pressure on marine microorganisms. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 5: 187-203
In: Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. Aberdeen University Press/Allen & Unwin: London. ISSN 0078-3218, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Document type: Review

    Deep water; Hydrostatic pressure; Microorganisms; Marine

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  • Morita, R.Y.

    Hydrostatic pressure, which is one of the main environmental parameters in the sea, is sorely neglected -mainly because of difficulties of the necessary instrumentation and the lack of qualified investigators interested in this field. It is, however, a most important parameter and must not be neglected if we are eventually to understand the relationship between hydrostatic pressure and life in the deep sea. Since this parameter is not an environmental factor for those working with terrestrial forms of life, most of the laboratory techniques, analyses, and so on, are not geared to its study. The study of hydrostatic pressure is an area of research which may be approached from a modern biological viewpoint and major contributions can be made concerning the effects of this parameter at the organism, and cellular, as well as molecular level. There are a multitude of questions which present themselves in relation to pressure when dealing with deep-sea organisms. Conditions for the existence of life on the abyssal sea floor are discussed by Menzies (1965) but he does not consider in detail the intimate relationship of pressure and temperature to the physiological processes of life in the deep sea; the relationship between pressure and life in the deep sea still remains to be investigated. Menzies (1965) points out that publications concerning the ecology of the deep sea have generally minimized the role of pressure as a factor influencing the penetration of life into the deeps, while Bruun (1957) attributes the failure to recover living animals from the deep sea to temperature changes encountered by the animals and not to pressure changes or decompression; however, I hope in this paper to show that pressure should not be neglected and that it is an important factor in the life of organisms in the deep sea. Even pressures as great as those found in the hadal portions of the oceans do not exclude the existence of life as was first demonstrated by the Galathea Deep-Sea Expedition. Visual observations of life in the hadal portions have also been made by the bathyscaphe, Trieste.All marine organisms, except those living at the surface, are subjected to varying degrees of hydrostatic pressure, which will depend upon the depth, temperature and salinity.

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