Proliferation of purple sulfur bacteria at the sediment surface affects intertidal mat diversity and functionality
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There is a relative absence of studies dealing with mats of purple sulphur bacteria in the intertidal zone. These bacteria display an array of metabolic pathways that allow them to disperse and develop under a wide variety of conditions, making these mats important in terms of ecosystem processes and functions. Mass blooms of purple sulphur bacteria develop during summer on sediments in the intertidal zone especially on macroalgal deposits. The microbial composition of different types of mats differentially affected by the development of purple sulphur bacteria was examined, at low tide, using a set of biochemical markers (fatty acids, pigments) and composition was assessed against their influence on ecosystem functions (sediment cohesiveness, CO2 fixation). We demonstrated that proliferation of purple sulphur bacteria has a major impact on intertidal mats diversity and functions. Indeed, assemblages dominated by purple sulphur bacteria (Chromatiaceae) were efficient exopolymer producers and their biostabilisation potential was significant. In addition, the massive growth of purple sulphur bacteria resulted in a net CO2 degassing whereas diatom dominated biofilms represented a net CO2 sink.
© 2013 Hubas et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.