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Microbial ecology of deep-sea sunken wood: quantitative measurements of bacterial biomass and cellulolytic activities

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Treude,  T.
Flux Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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

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Citation

Palacios, C., Zbinden, M., Baco, A. R., Treude, T., Smith, C. R., Gaill, F., et al. (2006). Microbial ecology of deep-sea sunken wood: quantitative measurements of bacterial biomass and cellulolytic activities. Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 47(4), 415-420.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CFAD-4
Abstract
When deposited in marine sediments, sunken wood and large animal remains can undergo sufficiently steady decay for oxygen to be depleted, attracting anaerobic living forms. Chemosynthetically living communities have recently been identified around whale skeletons and sunken woods. The phylogenetic resemblance and overlap in species of metazoans living in these habitats with those of highly reduced environments like hydrothermal vents and vent seeps has led to the hypothesis that deep-sea organic rich matter deposits could play a major role in the adaptation and evolution of chemoautotrophic communities at the ocean basin. Until present little attention has been paid to the free-living microbial diversity and activities in large organic falls like sunken woods and whale bones. In this communication we outline a series of methods to quantitatively study microbial biodiversity and degradation processes in sunken wood. Cellulose is the most abundant component of plant material and it can only be degraded by fungi and bacteria. We present results from cellulolytic activities in a long-term ex-situ experiment on samples from naturally and experimentally immersed sunken wood. We also have developed methods to quantitatively measure microbial cell numbers in wood chips. Further studies at the molecular level in combination with the methods reported here will broad our narrow knowledge on the microbial biofilms that develop on and within sunken woods and give clues on the ecological importance of these deep-sea organic islands.