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Hansman, RL, Thurber AR, Levin LA, Aluwihare LI.  2017.  Methane fates in the benthos and water column at cold seep sites along the continental margin of Central and North America. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 120:122-131.   10.1016/j.dsr.2016.12.016   AbstractWebsite

The potential influence of methane seeps on carbon cycling is a key question for global assessments, but the study of carbon cycling in surface sediments and the water column of cold seep environments is complicated by the high temporal and spatial variability of fluid and gas fluxes at these sites. In this study we directly examined carbon sources supporting benthic and planktonic food webs at venting methane seeps using isotopic and molecular approaches that integrate this variability. At four seep environments located along North and Central America, microorganisms from two size fractions were collected over several days from 2800 to 90501 of seawater to provide a time-integrated measure of key microbial groups and the carbon sources supporting the overall planktonic microbial community. In addition to water column measurements, the extent of seafloor methane release was estimated at two of the sites by examining the stable carbon isotopic signature (delta C-13) of benthic metazoan infauna. This signature reveals carbon sources fueling the base of the food chain and thus provides a metric that represents a time-integrated view of the dominant microbial processes within the sediment. The stable carbon isotopic composition of microbial DNA (delta C-13-DNA), which had values between -17.0 and -19.5%(0), indicated that bulk planktonic microbial production was not ultimately linked to methane or other C-13-depleted seep-derived carbon sources. Instead these data support the importance of organic carbon derived from either photo- or chemoautotrophic CO2 fixation to the planktonic food web. Results of qPCR of microbial DNA sequences coding for a subunit of the particulate methane monooxygenase gene (pmoA) showed that only a small percentage of the planktonic microbial community were potential methane oxidizers possessing pmoA (< 5% of 16S rRNA gene copies). There was an overall decrease of C-13-depleted carbon fueling the benthic metazoan community from 3 to 5 cm below the seafloor to the sediment surface, reflecting limited use of isotopically depleted carbon at the sediment surface. Rare methane emission as indicated by limited aerobic methane oxidation acts to corroborate our findings for the planktonic microbial community.

Aluwihare, LI, Repeta DJ, Chen RF.  2002.  Chemical composition and cycling of dissolved organic matter in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 49:4421-4437.   10.1016/s0967-0645(02)00124-8   AbstractWebsite

This study focuses on the chemical characterization of high molecular-weight dissolved organic matter (HMW DOM) isolated from the Middle Atlantic Bight in April 1994 and March 1996. Using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((HNMR)-H-1) and monosaccharide analysis we compared both spatial and temporal variations in the chemical structure of HMW DOM across this region. Our analyses support the presence of at least two compositionally distinct components to HMW DOM. The major component is acyl polysaccharide (APS), a biopolymer rich in carbohydrates, acetate and lipid, accounting for between 50% and 80% of the total high molecular-weight dissolved organic carbon (HMW DOC) in surface samples. APS is most abundant in fully marine, surface-water samples, and is a product of autochthonous production. Organic matter with spectral properties characteristic of humic substances is the second major component of HMW DOM. Humic substances are most abundant (up to 49% of the total carbon) in samples collected from estuaries, near the coast, and in deep water, suggesting both marine and perhaps terrestrial sources. Radiocarbon analyses of neutral monosaccharides released by the hydrolysis of APS have similar and modern (average 71parts per thousand) Delta(14)C values. Radiocarbon data support our suggestion that these sugars occur as part of a common macromolecule, with an origin via recent biosynthesis. Preliminary radiocarbon data for total neutral monosaccharides isolated from APS at 300 and 750m show this fraction to be substantially enriched relative to total HMW DOC and DOC. The relatively enriched radiocarbon values of APS at depth suggest APS is rapidly transported into the deep ocean. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.