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Microb Ecol. 2008 May;55(4):626-39.

Prokaryote diversity and virus abundance in shallow hydrothermal vents of the Mediterranean Sea (Panarea Island) and the Pacific Ocean (north Sulawesi-Indonesia).

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Institute of Marine Science, ISMAR-CNR, Largo Fiera della Pesca, 60125 Ancona, Italy.


Despite their ubiquitous distribution in tectonically active coastal zones, shallow water hydrothermal vents have been less investigated than deep-sea vents. In the present study, we investigated the role of viral control and fluid emissions on prokaryote abundance, diversity, and community structure (total Archaea, total Bacteria, and sulphate-reducing bacteria) in waters and sediments surrounding the caldera of four different shallow-water hydrothermal vents (three located in the Mediterranean Sea and one in the Pacific Ocean). All vents, independent of their location, generally displayed a significant decrease of benthic prokaryote abundance, as well as its viable fraction, with increasing distance from the vent. Prokaryote assemblages were always dominated by Bacteria. Benthic Archaea accounted for 23-33% of total prokaryote abundance in the Mediterranean Sea and from 13 to 29% in the Pacific Ocean, whereas in the water column they accounted for 25-38%. The highest benthic bacterial ribotype richness was observed in close proximity of the vents (i.e., at 10-cm distance from the emissions), indicating that vent fluids might influence bacterial diversity in surrounding sediments. Virioplankton and viriobenthos abundances were low compared to other marine systems, suggesting that temperature and physical-chemical conditions might influence viral survival in these vent systems. We thus hypothesize that the high bacterial diversity observed in close proximity of the vents is related with the highly variable vent emissions, which could favor the coexistence of several prokaryotic species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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