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Biofouling. 2007;23(1-2):1-13.

Adherent bacteria in heavy metal contaminated marine sediments.

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Marine Biology Laboratory, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.


The eubacterial communities adherent to sediment particles were studied in heavy metal contaminated coastal sediments. Six sampling sites on the Belgian continental plate and presenting various metal loads, granulometries, and organic matter content, were compared. The results indicated that the total microbial biomass (attached + free-living bacteria) was negatively correlated to HCl-extractable metal levels (p<0.05) and that the percentage of cells adherent to sediment particles was close to 100% in every site even in highly contaminated sediments. Consequently, it seems that heavy metal contamination does affect total bacterial biomass in marine sediments but that the ratio between attached and free living microorganisms is not affected. The composition of the eubacterial communities adherent to the fine fraction of the sediments (<150 microm) was determined using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH). The FISH results indicated that the proportion of gamma- and delta-Proteobacteria, and Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides (CFB) bacteria, was not related to the HCl extractable metal levels. Most of the 79 complete 16S rRNA sequences obtained from the attached microbial communities were classified in the gamma- and delta-Proteobacteria and in the CFB bacteria. A large proportion of the attached gamma-Proteobacterial sequences found in this study (56%) was included in the uncultivated GMS clades that are indigenous to marine sediments.

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