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Detection and enumeration of microbial cells within highly porous calcareous reef sands

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Wild,  C.
HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep Sea Ecology & Technology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Huettel,  M.
Flux Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Wild, C., Laforsch, C., & Huettel, M. (2006). Detection and enumeration of microbial cells within highly porous calcareous reef sands. Marine and Freshwater Research, 57(4), 415-420.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CFA1-0
Abstract
In order to assess and to compare the abundances of prokaryotes in coral sands from three different areas in the Indo-Pacific, a technique was developed and evaluated for enumeration of prokaryotes living on and within calcareous grains. Propidium iodide labelling of prokaryotes and consecutive confocal laser scanning microscopy showed microbial colonisation within pores and small fissures of the coral sands. This embedded microbial colonisation required at least four extractions with weak acetic acid to dissolve the grain surface layer in order to detach 97% of the prokaryotic cells. Microbial enumeration based on this technique revealed that the abundance of prokaryotes in the carbonate sands were not significantly different among the three sites, but were about one order of magnitude higher than reported for silicate sands of a similar grain size spectrum. A possible reason for this high abundance of prokaryotes is the complex surface structure of the biogenic calcareous grains, their correspondingly highly porous matrix and the associated ability of prokaryotes to penetrate into carbonate grains. Our results highlight the role of calcareous reef sands as a substratum with a large specific surface area for prokaryotic colonisation and emphasise the contribution of calcium carbonate reef sands for element cycles in subtropical and tropical ecosystems.