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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2000 Aug 1;33(2):89-99.

Bacteria in the cold deep-sea benthic boundary layer and sediment-water interface of the NE Atlantic.

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1
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Citadel Hill, The Hoe, PL1 2PB, Plymouth, UK

Abstract

This is a short review of the current understanding of the role of microorganisms in the biogeochemistry in the deep-sea benthic boundary layer (BBL) and sediment-water interface (SWI) of the NE Atlantic, the gaps in our knowledge and some suggestions of future directions. The BBL is the layer of water, often tens of meters thick, adjacent to the sea bed and with homogenous properties of temperature and salinity, which sometimes contains resuspended detrital particles. The SWI is the bioreactive interface between the water column and the upper 1 cm of sediment and can include a large layer of detrital material composed of aggregates that have sedimented from the upper mixed layer of the ocean. This material is biologically transformed, over a wide range of time scales, eventually forming the sedimentary record. To understand the microbial ecology of deep-sea bacteria, we need to appreciate the food supply in the upper ocean, its packaging, passage and transformation during the delivery to the sea bed, the seasonality of variability of the supply and the environmental conditions under which the deep-sea bacteria grow. We also need to put into a microbial context recent geochemical findings of vast reservoirs of intrinsically labile organic material sorped onto sediments. These may well become desorped, and once again available to microorganisms, during resuspension events caused by deep ocean currents. As biotechnologists apply their tools in the deep oceans in search of unique bacteria, an increasing knowledge and understanding of the natural processes undertaken and environmental conditions experienced by deep-sea bacteria will facilitate this exploitation.

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