Methane-carbon flow into the benthic food web at cold seeps – a case study from the Costa Rica subduction zone.

Niemann, H., Linke, Peter , Knittel, K., MacPherson, E., Boetius, A., Brückmann, Warner, Larvid, G., Wallmann, Klaus , Schacht, U., Omoregie, E., Hilton, D., Brown, K. and Rehder, Gregor (2013) Methane-carbon flow into the benthic food web at cold seeps – a case study from the Costa Rica subduction zone. Open Access PLoS ONE, 8 (10). e74894. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0074894.

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Cold seep ecosystems can support enormous biomasses of free-living and symbiotic chemoautotrophic organisms that get their energy from the oxidation of methane or sulfide. Most of this biomass derives from animals that are associated with bacterial symbionts, which are able to metabolize the chemical resources provided by the seeping fluids. Often these systems also harbor dense accumulations of non-symbiotic megafauna, which can be relevant in exporting chemosynthetically fixed carbon from seeps to the surrounding deep sea. Here we investigated the carbon sources of lithodid crabs (Paralomis sp.) feeding on thiotrophic bacterial mats at an active mud volcano at the Costa Rica subduction zone. To evaluate the dietary carbon source of the crabs, we compared the microbial community in stomach contents with surface sediments covered by microbial mats. The stomach content analyses revealed a dominance of epsilonproteobacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences related to the free-living and epibiotic sulfur oxidiser Sulfurovum sp. We also found Sulfurovum sp. as well as members of the genera Arcobacter and Sulfurimonas in mat-covered surface sediments where Epsilonproteobacteria were highly abundant constituting 10% of total cells. Furthermore, we detected substantial amounts of bacterial fatty acids such as i-C15:0 and C17:1ω6c with stable carbon isotope compositions as low as −53‰ in the stomach and muscle tissue. These results indicate that the white microbial mats at Mound 12 are comprised of Epsilonproteobacteria and that microbial mat-derived carbon provides an important contribution to the crab's nutrition. In addition, our lipid analyses also suggest that the crabs feed on other 13C-depleted organic matter sources, possibly symbiotic megafauna as well as on photosynthetic carbon sources such as sedimentary detritus.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000325501300018
Keywords: cold seeps, Costa Rica, Mound 12, anaerobic oxidation of methane, food web study, lithodid crabs, R/V Atlantis (cruise AT11-28), RV Meteor, DSV Alvin, ROV Quest
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R05
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > SFB 574
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074894
ISSN: 1932-6203
Projects: Future Ocean
Contribution Number:
SFB 574258
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2013 08:23
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 18:47

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