Temporal and Spatial Variations of Bacterial and Faunal Communities Associated with Deep-Sea Wood Falls.
ABSTRACT: Sinking of large organic food falls i.e. kelp, wood and whale carcasses to the oligotrophic deep-sea floor promotes the establishment of locally highly productive and diverse ecosystems, often with specifically adapted benthic communities. However, the fragmented spatial distribution and small area poses challenges for the dispersal of their microbial and faunal communities. Our study focused on the temporal dynamics and spatial distributions of sunken wood bacterial communities, which were deployed in the vicinity of different cold seeps in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Norwegian deep-seas. By combining fingerprinting of bacterial communities by ARISA and 454 sequencing with in situ and ex situ biogeochemical measurements, we show that sunken wood logs have a locally confined long-term impact (> 3y) on the sediment geochemistry and community structure. We confirm previous hypotheses of different successional stages in wood degradation including a sulphophilic one, attracting chemosynthetic fauna from nearby seep systems. Wood experiments deployed at similar water depths (1100-1700 m), but in hydrographically different oceanic regions harbored different wood-boring bivalves, opportunistic faunal communities, and chemosynthetic species. Similarly, bacterial communities on sunken wood logs were more similar within one geographic region than between different seas. Diverse sulphate-reducing bacteria of the Deltaproteobacteria, the sulphide-oxidizing bacteria Sulfurovum as well as members of the Acidimicrobiia and Bacteroidia dominated the wood falls in the Eastern Mediterranean, while Alphaproteobacteria and Flavobacteriia colonized the Norwegian Sea wood logs. Fauna and bacterial wood-associated communities changed between 1 to 3 years of immersion, with sulphate-reducers and sulphide-oxidizers increasing in proportion, and putative cellulose degraders decreasing with time. Only 6% of all bacterial genera, comprising the core community, were found at any time on the Eastern Mediterranean sunken wooden logs. This study suggests that biogeography and succession play an important role for the composition of bacteria and fauna of wood-associated communities, and that wood can act as stepping-stones for seep biota.
Project description:Large organic food falls to the deep sea--such as whale carcasses and wood logs--are known to serve as stepping stones for the dispersal of highly adapted chemosynthetic organisms inhabiting hot vents and cold seeps. Here we investigated the biogeochemical and microbiological processes leading to the development of sulfidic niches by deploying wood colonization experiments at a depth of 1690 m in the Eastern Mediterranean for one year. Wood-boring bivalves of the genus Xylophaga played a key role in the degradation of the wood logs, facilitating the development of anoxic zones and anaerobic microbial processes such as sulfate reduction. Fauna and bacteria associated with the wood included types reported from other deep-sea habitats including chemosynthetic ecosystems, confirming the potential role of large organic food falls as biodiversity hot spots and stepping stones for vent and seep communities. Specific bacterial communities developed on and around the wood falls within one year and were distinct from freshly submerged wood and background sediments. These included sulfate-reducing and cellulolytic bacterial taxa, which are likely to play an important role in the utilization of wood by chemosynthetic life and other deep-sea animals.
Project description:Continental margins host methane seeps, animal falls and wood falls, with chemosynthetic communities that may share or exchange species. The goal of this study was to examine the existence and nature of linkages among chemosynthesis-based ecosystems by deploying organic fall mimics (bone and wood) alongside defaunated carbonate rocks within high and lesser levels of seepage activity for 7.4 years. We compared community composition, density, and trophic structure of invertebrates on these hard substrates at active methane seepage and transition (less seepage) sites at Mound 12 at ~1,000 m depth, a methane seep off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. At transition sites, the community composition on wood and bone was characteristic of natural wood- and whale-fall community composition, which rely on decay of the organic substrates. However, at active sites, seepage activity modified the relationship between fauna and substrate, seepage activity had a stronger effect in defining and homogenizing these communities and they depend less on organic decay. In contrast to community structure, macrofaunal trophic niche overlap between substrates, based on standard ellipse areas, was greater at transition sites than at active sites, except between rock and wood. Our observations suggest that whale- and wood-fall substrates can function as stepping stones for seep fauna even at later successional stages, providing hard substrate for attachment and chemosynthetic food.
Project description:The cornerstones of sunken wood ecosystems are microorganisms involved in cellulose degradation. These can either be free-living microorganisms in the wood matrix or symbiotic bacteria associated with wood-boring bivalves such as emblematic species of Xylophaga, the most common deep-sea woodborer. Here we use experimentally submerged pine wood, placed in and outside the Mediterranean submarine Blanes Canyon, to compare the microbial communities on the wood, in fecal pellets of Xylophaga spp. and associated with the gills of these animals. Analyses based on tag pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA bacterial gene showed that sunken wood contained three distinct microbial communities. Wood and pellet communities were different from each other suggesting that Xylophaga spp. create new microbial niches by excreting fecal pellets into their burrows. In turn, gills of Xylophaga spp. contain potential bacterial symbionts, as illustrated by the presence of sequences closely related to symbiotic bacteria found in other wood eating marine invertebrates. Finally, we