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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-15
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-15
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 28 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 28 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

On giant shoulders: How a seamount affects the microbial community composition of seawater and sponges

Kathrin Busch1, Ulrike Hanz2, Furu Mienis2, Benjamin Müller3, Andre Franke4, Emyr Martyn Roberts5, Hans Tore Rapp5, and Ute Hentschel1,6 Kathrin Busch et al.
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
  • 2NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht University, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, the Netherlands
  • 3University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, P.O. Box 94248, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 4Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), Rosalind-Franklin-Straße 12, 24105 Kiel, Germany
  • 5University of Bergen, Department of Biological Sciences and K.G. Jebsen Centre for Deep-sea Research, P.O. Box 7803, 5020 Bergen, Norway
  • 6Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Seamounts represent ideal systems to study the influence and interdependency of environmental gradients at a single geographic location. These topographic features represent a prominent habitat for various forms of life, including microbiota and macrobiota, spanning benthic as well as pelagic organisms. While it is known that seamounts are globally abundant structures, it still remains unclear how and to which extend the complexity of the seafloor is intertwined with the local oceanographic mosaic, biogeochemistry and microbiology of a seamount ecosystem. Along these lines, the present study aimed to explore whether and to which extend seamounts can have an imprint on the microbial community composition of seawater and of sessile benthic invertebrates, sponges. For our high-resolution sampling approach of microbial diversity (16S rRNA gene Amplicon sequencing) along with measurements of inorganic nutrients and other biogeochemical parameters, we focused on the Schulz Bank seamount ecosystem, a sponge ground ecosystem which is located on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge. Seawater samples were collected at two sampling depths (mid-water: MW, and near-bed water: BW) from a total of 19 sampling sites. With a clustering approach we defined microbial micro-habitats within the pelagic realm at Schulz Bank, which were mapped onto the seamount's topography, and related to various environmental parameters (such as suspended particulate matter (SPM), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), silicate (SiO4), phosphate (PO43−), ammonia (NH4+), nitrate (NO32−), nitrite (NO2), depth, and dissolved oxygen (O2)). The results of our study reveal a seamount effect (sensu stricto) on the microbial mid-water pelagic community up to approximately 200 m above the seafloor. Further, we observed a strong spatial heterogeneity in the pelagic microbial landscape across the seamount, with planktonic microbial communities reflecting oscillatory and circulatory water movements, as well as processes of bentho-pelagic coupling. Depth, NO32−, SiO4, and O2 concentrations differed significantly between the determined pelagic microbial clusters close to the seafloor (BW), suggesting that these parameters were presumably linked to changes in microbial community structures. Secondly, we assessed the associated microbial community compositions of three sponge species along a depth gradient of the seamount. While sponge-associated microbial communities were found to be mainly species-specific, we also detected significant intra-specific differences between individuals, depending on the pelagic near-bed cluster they originated from. The variable microbial phyla (i.e. phyla which showed significant differences across varying depth, NO32−, SiO4, O2 concentrations and different from local seawater communities) were distinct for every sponge-species when considering average abundances per species. Variable microbial phyla included representatives of both, those taxa traditionally counted to the variable community fraction, as well as taxa counted traditionally to the core community fraction. Microbial co-occurrence patterns for the three examined sponge species Geodia hentscheli (demosponge, HMA), Lissodendoryx complicata (demosponge, most likely LMA), and Schaudinnia rosea (Hexactinellida, most likely LMA) were distinct from each other. Over all, this study shows that topographic structures such as the Schulz Bank seamount can have an imprint (seamount effect sensu lato) on both, the microbial community composition of seawater and of sessile benthic invertebrates such as sponges by an interplay between the geology, physical oceanography, biogeochemistry and microbiology of seamounts.

Kathrin Busch et al.

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Kathrin Busch et al.

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Short summary
Seamounts are globally abundant submarine structures, which offer great potential to study the impacts and interactions of environmental gradients at a single geographic location. In an exemplary way, we describe potential mechanisms by which a seamount can affect the structure of pelagic and benthic (sponge)-associated microbial communities. We conclude that the geology, physical oceanography, biogeochemistry and microbiology of seamounts are even more closely linked than currently appreciated.
Seamounts are globally abundant submarine structures, which offer great potential to study the...
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