Spatial homogeneity of bacterial and archaeal communities in the deep eastern Mediterranean Sea surface sediments


  • Sabine Keuter Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Tel Shikmona, Haifa, Israel
  • Baruch Rinkevich Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Tel Shikmona, Haifa, Israel


deep sea sediments, eastern Mediterranean, microbial communities, ammonia oxidizing Archaea (AOA), Israel


The diversity of microorganisms inhabiting the deep sea surface sediments was investigated in 9 stations (700-1900 m depth) in the Levantine basin by 454 massive tag sequencing of the 16S rDNA V4 region using universal primers. In total, 108,811 reads (an average of 10,088 per sample) were assigned to 5014 bacterial and 966 archaeal operational taxonomic units (OTUs; at 97% cut off). The 55% of the reads were of archaea, indicating dominance of archaea over bacteria at eight of the stations. The diversity and estimated richness values were high (e.g., H´ ranged from 5.66 to 7.41 for bacteria). The compositions of the microorganisms at all stations were remarkably similar, with Bray-Curtis similarities of 0.53–0.91 and 0.74–0.99 for bacterial and archaeal orders respectively. At two stations, very high abundances of only a few genera (Marinobacterium, Bacillus, Vibrio, Photobacterium) were accountable for the dissimilarities documented compared to the other deep sea stations. Half of the bacterial reads (51%) belonged to the phylum Proteobacteria, comprising mainly Gammaproteobacteria (41–72% of the proteobacterial reads per sample), Deltaproteobacteria (12–29%), Alphaproteobacteria (7–18%) and Betaproteobacteria (3–14%). The most abundant bacterial family was Sinobacteraceae (order Xanthomonadales) with 5–10% of total bacterial reads per sample. Most abundant reads (15.4% of all microbial reads) were affiliated with Marine Group 1 archaea, putatively capable of ammonia oxidation (213 OTUs), and bacteria involved in nitrification were found in all samples. The data point to the significant role that chemolithotrophic carbon assimilation and nitrification fill in the oligotrophic deep sea Levant sediments. [Int Microbiol 19(2): 109-119 (2016)]

Keywords: deep sea sediments · eastern Mediterranean · microbial communities · ammonia oxidizing Archaea (AOA) · Israel




Research Articles