Send to

Choose Destination
FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2016 May;92(5):fiw027. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiw027. Epub 2016 Feb 16.

Quantification of the effects of ocean acidification on sediment microbial communities in the environment: the importance of ecosystem approaches.

Author information

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstraße 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstraße 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany.
National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK.
Center for Biotechnology, Bielefeld University, Universitätsstrasse 27, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany.
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstraße 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Bern University, Finkenhubelweg 11, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.


To understand how ocean acidification (OA) influences sediment microbial communities, naturally CO2-rich sites are increasingly being used as OA analogues. However, the characterization of these naturally CO2-rich sites is often limited to OA-related variables, neglecting additional environmental variables that may confound OA effects. Here, we used an extensive array of sediment and bottom water parameters to evaluate pH effects on sediment microbial communities at hydrothermal CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. The geochemical composition of the sediment pore water showed variations in the hydrothermal signature at seep sites with comparable pH, allowing the identification of sites that may better represent future OA scenarios. At these sites, we detected a 60% shift in the microbial community composition compared with reference sites, mostly related to increases in Chloroflexi sequences. pH was among the factors significantly, yet not mainly, explaining changes in microbial community composition. pH variation may therefore often not be the primary cause of microbial changes when sampling is done along complex environmental gradients. Thus, we recommend an ecosystem approach when assessing OA effects on sediment microbial communities under natural conditions. This will enable a more reliable quantification of OA effects via a reduction of potential confounding effects.


microbial community composition; natural laboratories; next generation sequencing; ocean acidification; shallow-water hydrothermal vents

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center