Background: Marine snow (small amorphous aggregates with colloidal properties) is present in all oceans of the world. Surface water warming and the consequent increase of water column stability can favour the coalescence of marine snow into marine mucilage, large marine aggregates representing an ephemeral and extreme habitat. Marine mucilage characterize aquatic systems with altered environmental conditions. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated, by means of molecular techniques, viruses and prokaryotes within the mucilage and in surrounding seawater to examine the potential of mucilage to host new microbial diversity and/or spread marine diseases. We found that marine mucilage contained a large and unexpectedly exclusive microbial biodiversity and hosted pathogenic species that were absent in surrounding seawater. We also investigated the relationship between climate change and the frequency of mucilage in the Mediterranean Sea over the last 200 years and found that the number of mucilage outbreaks increased almost exponentially in the last 20 years. The increasing frequency of mucilage outbreaks is closely associated with the temperature anomalies. Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that the spreading of mucilage in the Mediterranean Sea is linked to climate-driven sea surface warming. The mucilage can act as a controlling factor of microbial diversity across wide oceanic regions and could have the potential to act as a carrier of specific microorganisms, thereby increasing the spread of pathogenic bacteria.

Climate change and the potential spreading of marine mucilage and microbial pathogens in the Mediterranean Sea

PUSCEDDU, ANTONIO
2009

Abstract

Background: Marine snow (small amorphous aggregates with colloidal properties) is present in all oceans of the world. Surface water warming and the consequent increase of water column stability can favour the coalescence of marine snow into marine mucilage, large marine aggregates representing an ephemeral and extreme habitat. Marine mucilage characterize aquatic systems with altered environmental conditions. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated, by means of molecular techniques, viruses and prokaryotes within the mucilage and in surrounding seawater to examine the potential of mucilage to host new microbial diversity and/or spread marine diseases. We found that marine mucilage contained a large and unexpectedly exclusive microbial biodiversity and hosted pathogenic species that were absent in surrounding seawater. We also investigated the relationship between climate change and the frequency of mucilage in the Mediterranean Sea over the last 200 years and found that the number of mucilage outbreaks increased almost exponentially in the last 20 years. The increasing frequency of mucilage outbreaks is closely associated with the temperature anomalies. Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that the spreading of mucilage in the Mediterranean Sea is linked to climate-driven sea surface warming. The mucilage can act as a controlling factor of microbial diversity across wide oceanic regions and could have the potential to act as a carrier of specific microorganisms, thereby increasing the spread of pathogenic bacteria.
Climate change; Marine environment; Mediterranean Sea; Microbial diversity: Mucilage
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
061 Danovaro et al PLOS ONE 2009.pdf

accesso aperto

Descrizione: Articolo principale
Tipologia: versione editoriale
Dimensione 554.93 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
554.93 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/123611
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 15
  • Scopus 95
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 82
social impact