Benthic microbes are key organisms in the oligotrophic Southeastern Mediterranean Sea (SEMS), yet their abundance, activity, and diversity in this rapidly changing basin are not fully understood. We investigated the prokaryotic and microfungal communities throughout years 2018-2020 at 27 stations (6-1900 m water depths, down to 20 cm below the sediment surface), in two transects with distinct downslope transport regimes, and along the eutrophic coastline. We estimated microbial abundance with flow cytometry, secondary production as leucine assimilation, and sequenced marker genes (the 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer) to assess diversity indices. The highest abundance (0.21 × 108 cells gr-1 sediment) was estimated at slope stations where we assumed substantial transport rates and found an accumulation of organic carbon. Secondary production was the highest nearshore (12 ± 4 ng C gr-1 h-1), and markedly declined offshore (0.5 ± 0.9 ng C gr-1 h-1). Populations of archaea (dominant Nitrososphaeria and Nanoarchaeia) and diverse bacteria were stable over three years, and taxonomic composition was dictated mainly by depth gradients. Saprotrophic and pathotrophic microfungi Ascomycota (70% ± 23%) and Basidiomycota (16% ± 18%) were prevalent, whereas parasitic chytrids were abundant nearshore. Our results highlight the role of downslope transport, which enriched the typical deep-sea communities with anaerobic lineages, in shaping microbial populations near the continental slope.
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- Marine sediment
- Mediterranean Sea
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology