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Publication . Article . 2017

Hypoxia causes preservation of labile organic matter and changes seafloor microbial community composition (Black Sea)

Gerdhard L Jessen; Anna Lichtschlag; Alban Ramette; Silvio Pantoja; Pamela E. Rossel; Carsten J. Schubert; Ulrich Struck; +1 Authors
Open Access
Published: 01 Feb 2017 Journal: Science Advances, volume 3, issue 2 (eissn: 2375-2548, Copyright policy )
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Bottom-water oxygen supply is a key factor governing the biogeochemistry and community composition of marine sediments. Whether it also determines carbon burial rates remains controversial. We investigated the effect of varying oxygen concentrations (170 to 0 μM O2) on microbial remineralization of organic matter in seafloor sediments and on community diversity of the northwestern Crimean shelf break. This study shows that 50% more organic matter is preserved in surface sediments exposed to hypoxia compared to oxic bottom waters. Hypoxic conditions inhibit bioturbation and decreased remineralization rates even within short periods of a few days. These conditions led to the accumulation of threefold more phytodetritus pigments within 40 years compared to the oxic zone. Bacterial community structure also differed between oxic, hypoxic, and anoxic zones. Functional groups relevant in the degradation of particulate organic matter, such as Flavobacteriia, Gammaproteobacteria, and Deltaproteobacteria, changed with decreasing oxygenation, and the microbial community of the hypoxic zone took longer to degrade similar amounts of deposited reactive matter. We conclude that hypoxic bottom-water conditions—even on short time scales—substantially increase the preservation potential of organic matter because of the negative effects on benthic fauna and particle mixing and by favoring anaerobic processes, including sulfurization of matter.

Hypoxia enhances organic matter preservation in marine sediments by changing benthic communities, bioturbation, and burial rates.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Medical Subject Headings: fungi sense organs skin and connective tissue diseases geographic locations

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Hypoxia (environmental) Chemistry Bioturbation Ecology Anoxic waters Benthic zone Organic matter chemistry.chemical_classification Remineralisation Dissolved organic carbon Phytodetritus


Research Article, Research Articles, SciAdv r-articles, Marine Ecology, Benthic microbial communities, organic matter quality, dissolved organic matter, hypoxia, Black Sea, sediments, sulfurization, 570 Life sciences; biology, 610 Medicine & health, 360 Social problems & social services, Multidisciplinary

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Funded by
ABYSS - Assessment of bacterial life and matter cycling in deep-sea surface sediments
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 294757
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP2 | ERC
In situ monitoring of oxygen depletion in hypoxic ecosystems of coastal and open seas, and land-locked water bodies
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 226213
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
Related to Research communities
European Marine Science Marine Environmental Science : In situ monitoring of oxygen depletion in hypoxic ecosystems of coastal and open seas, and land-locked water bodies
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Science Advances
Article . 2017
Providers: PubMed Central