A metatranscriptomics-based assessment of small-scale mixing of sulfidic and oxic waters on redoxcline prokaryotic communities

Environ Microbiol. 2019 Feb;21(2):584-602. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14499. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


Lateral intrusions of oxygen caused by small-scale mixing are thought to shape microbial activity in marine redoxclines. To examine the response of prokaryotes to such mixing events we employed a shipboard mixing experiment in the euxinic central Baltic Sea: oxic, nitrate containing and sulfidic water samples without detectable oxygenized substances were incubated directly or after mixing. While nitrate, nitrite and ammonium concentrations stayed approximately constant in all incubations, we observed a decrease of sulfide after the contact with oxygen in the sulfide containing incubations. The transcription of marker genes from chemolithoauthotrophic key players including archaeal nitrifiers as well as gammaproteobacterial and campylobacterial autotrophic organisms that couple denitrification with sulfur-oxidation were followed at four time points within 8.5 h. The temporally contrasting transcriptional profiles of gammaproteobacterial and campylobacterial denitrifiers that depend on the same inorganic substrates pointed to a niche separation. Particular archaeal and campylobacterial marker genes involved in nitrification, denitrification and sulfur oxidation, which depend on oxidized substrates, were highly upregulated in the anaerobic sulfidic samples. We suggest that, despite the absence of measurable oxygenated compounds in the sulfidic water, frequent intermittent small-scale intrusions stimulate the permanent upregulation of genes involved in nitrification, denitrification and sulfur oxidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonium Compounds / metabolism
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / metabolism*
  • Autotrophic Processes / genetics
  • Autotrophic Processes / physiology*
  • Baltic States
  • Campylobacter / genetics
  • Campylobacter / metabolism*
  • Denitrification / physiology
  • Gammaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Gammaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Nitrification / physiology
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / analysis
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Sulfides / metabolism


  • Ammonium Compounds
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Sulfides
  • Oxygen