Macrofaunal control of microbial community structure in continental margin sediments

Longhui Deng, Damian Bölsterli, Erik Kristensen, Christof Meile, Chih Chieh Su, Stefano Michele Bernasconi, Marit Solveig Seidenkrantz, Clemens Glombitza, Lorenzo Lagostina, Xingguo Han, Bo Barker Jørgensen, Hans Røy, Mark Alexander Lever

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Through a process called "bioturbation," burrowing macrofauna have altered the seafloor habitat and modified global carbon cycling since the Cambrian. However, the impact of macrofauna on the community structure of microorganisms is poorly understood. Here, we show that microbial communities across bioturbated, but geochemically and sedimentologically divergent, continental margin sites are highly similar but differ clearly from those in nonbioturbated surface and underlying subsurface sediments. Solidand solute-phase geochemical analyses combined with modeled bioturbation activities reveal that dissolved O 2introduction by burrow ventilation is the major driver of archaeal community structure. By contrast, solid-phase reworking, which regulates the distribution of fresh, algal organic matter, is the main control of bacterial community structure. In nonbioturbated surface sediments and in subsurface sediments, bacterial and archaeal communities are more divergent between locations and appear mainly driven by sitespecific differences in organic carbon sources.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number27
Pages (from-to)15911-15922
Publication statusPublished - 7. Jul 2020


  • bioturbation
  • burrow ventilation
  • organic carbon sources
  • particle reworking
  • redox state
  • Bioturbation
  • Redox state
  • Burrow ventilation
  • Organic carbon sources
  • Particle reworking


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