In order to study temporal variations of the genetic material in the continental shelf and deep-sea sediments of the extremely oligotrophic Cretan Sea, samples were collected on seasonal basis from August 1994 to September 1995, with a multiple corer, at seven stations (from 40 to 1540 m depth). Surface sediments (0-1 cm) were sub-sampled and analyzed for nucleic acid content (DNA, RNA) and bacterial density. DNA concentrations in the sediments were high (on annual average, 25.0 μg g-1) and declined with increasing water depth, ranging from 3.5 to 55.2 μg g-1. DNA concentrations displayed wide temporal changes also at bathyal depths confirming the recent view of the large variability of the deep-sea environments. Also RNA concentrations decreased with increasing water depth (range: 0.4-29.9 μg g-1). The ratio of RNA to DNA did not show a clear spatial pattern but was characterized by significant changes between sampling periods. DNA concentrations were significantly correlated with protein and phytopigment concentrations in the sediment, indicating a possible relationship with the inputs of primary organic matter from the photic layer. Bacterial densities were generally high (range: 0.9-4.6 x 108 cells g-1) compared to other deep-sea environments and decreased with increasing water depth. Estimates of the bacterial contribution to the sedimentary genetic material indicated that bacterial-DNA accounted, on annual average, for a small fraction of the total DNA pool (4.3%) but that bacterial-RNA represented a significant fraction of the total sedimentary RNA (26%). Bacterial contribution to nucleic acids increased, even though irregularly, with increasing depth. In deep-sea sediments, changes in RNA concentrations appear to be largely dependent upon bacterial dynamics. Estimates of the overall living contribution to the DNA pools (i.e. microbial plus meiofaunal DNA) indicated that the large majority (about 90%) of the DNA in continental and deep-sea sediments of the eastern Mediterranean was detrital. The non-living DNA pools reach extremely high concentrations up to 0.41 g DNA m-2 cm-1. Thus, especially in deep benthic habitats, characterized by low inputs of labile organic compounds, detrital DNA could represent a suitable and high quality food source or a significant reservoir of nncleic acid precursors for benthic metabolism.
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|Titolo:||Nucleic acid concentrations (DNA, RNA) in the continental and deep-sea sediments of the eastern Mediterranean: relationships with seasonally varying organic inputs and bacterial dynamics|
|Data di pubblicazione:||1999|
|Tipologia:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|