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Journal Articles Progress in Oceanography Year : 2003

Microbial activities at the benthic boundary layer in the Aegean Sea


During the Aegean Sea component of the EU MTP-MATER project, benthic samples were acquired along a depth gradient from two continental margins in the Aegean Sea. Sampling was undertaken during spring and summer 1997 and the microbial metabolic activities measured (Vmax for aminopeptidase activity, 14C-glutamate respiration and assimilation) displayed seasonal variability even in deep-sea conditions. The metabolic rates encountered in the North Aegean (average depth 566±234 m), were approximately five-fold higher than in the deeper (1336±140 m) Southern part of the Aegean. The aminopeptidase rates, however, were the exception with higher values recorded in the more oligotrophic sediments of the Southern stations (1383±152 vs. 766±297 nmol MCA cm-2 h-1). A discrepancy in bacterial metabolism also appeared in the near bottom waters. In the Southern stations, 80% of the glutamate uptake was used for energy yielding processes and only 20% devoted to biomass production, while in the North Aegean, most of the used glutamate was incorporated into bacterial cells. During the early burial stages, bacterial mineralization rates estimated from 14C-glutamate respiration decreased drastically compared to the rates of biopolymer hydrolysis estimated by aminopeptidase assays. Thus, at the 2-cm depth layer, these rates were only 32 and up to 77% of the corresponding average values, respectively, in the superficial layer. Such a discrepancy between the evolution of these two metabolic activities is possibly due to the rapid removal of readily utilizable monomers in the surface deposits. The correlation between bacterial respiration and total organic carbon, or total organic nitrogen, is higher in the surficial sediment (0-2 and 2-4 cm) than in the underlying layer. Conversely, it is only at 4-cm depth layer that the hydrolysis rates appear correlated with organic carbon and nitrogen concentrations. This pattern confirms the drastic degradation of organic matter during the early burial stages.

Dates and versions

insu-03634621 , version 1 (07-04-2022)



A. Bianchi, O. Tholosan, J. Garcin, T. Polychronaki, A. Tselepides, et al.. Microbial activities at the benthic boundary layer in the Aegean Sea. Progress in Oceanography, 2003, 57, pp.219-236. ⟨10.1016/S0079-6611(03)00034-X⟩. ⟨insu-03634621⟩
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