Molecular isotopic tracing of carbon flow and trophic relationships in a methane-supported benthic microbial community

Werne, Josef P., M. Baas, J. S. Sinninghe Damsté

Limnol. Oceanogr., 47(6), 2002, 1694-1701 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2002.47.6.1694

ABSTRACT: A molecular isotopic study in cold-seep sediments from Kazan mud volcano in the eastern Mediterranean Sea indicates that a significant proportion of methane released in this environment is incorporated into biomass in methane-supported chemosynthetic microbial communities. Furthermore, extremely 13C depleted biomarkers (as much as -111‰ Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite (VPDB)) have revealed pathways of methane-derived carbon flow through the microbial community and into eukaryotic biomass. Specifically, we are able to trace the flow of methane derived carbon through anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea into sulfate-reducing bacteria, as well as into aerobic methane-oxidizing bacteria. The methane-derived carbon is then incorporated into eukaryotic biomass through heterotrophy by bacterivorous ciliates.

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