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Extremophiles. 2006 Jun;10(3):199-211. Epub 2006 Feb 8.

Vertical distribution and diversity of bacteria and archaea in sulfide and methane-rich cold seep sediments located at the base of the Florida Escarpment.

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  • 1Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


The bacterial and archaeal communities of the sediments at the base of the Florida Escarpment (Gulf of Mexico, USA) were investigated using molecular phylogenetic analysis. The total microbial community DNA of each of three vertical zones (top, middle and bottom) of a sediment core was extracted and the 16S rRNA genes were amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced. Shannon-Weaver Diversity measures of bacteria were high in all three zones. For the archaea, diversity was generally low, but increased with depth. The archaeal clonal libraries were dominated by representatives of four groups of organisms involved in the anaerobic oxidation of methane (ANME groups). Phylogenetic analysis of bacteria suggests the dominance of epsilon-proteobacteria in the top zone, the epsilon-, delta- and gamma-proteobacteria in the middle zone and the delta-proteobacteria in the bottom zone of the core. Members of the Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroidetes group, the Chloroflexi/green non-sulfur bacteria, the Gram+ (Firmicutes), the Planctomyces, candidate division WS3 and Fusobacterium were also detected. Our data suggest that the community structure and diversity of microorganisms can shift greatly within small vertical distances, possibly in response to changes in the physical and chemical conditions.

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