Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 69–81 | Cite as

Biodiversity and distribution of the genus Gromia (Protista, Rhizaria) in the deep Weddell Sea (Southern Ocean)

  • Nina Rothe
  • Andrew J. Gooday
  • Tomas Cedhagen
  • J. Alan Hughes
Original Paper


We present a survey of morphospecies of Gromia, a genus of testate protists, from bathyal and abyssal depths in the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas of the Southern Ocean. This material represents the most extensive and diverse available collection of deep-sea gromiids so far recorded. The twelve species, nine of which are undescribed, are recognized on the basis of morphological criteria, including the test size and shape, the appearance and structure of the oral capsule, and the characteristics of the test wall. Most species have a single oral capsule, which is circular in plan view with a conical nipple-like shape in lateral view. One morphospecies has three oral capsules. The appearance and structure of the wall displays great variability among Gromia species, ranging from very delicate and transparent with highly reflective highlights to relatively thick with distinct patterns of ridges covering the surface. More often, however, differences in wall structure are more subtle. Most morphospecies were distributed at bathyal depths along the continental margin, but one was sampled at ~4,800 m, representing the first record of an abyssal gromiid. Concurrent with findings from other regions of the World’s oceans, the Weddell Sea gromiids were mostly found in surficial sediments in areas of elevated organic input, suggesting that deep-sea gromiids are likely to play an important role in carbon cycling in bathyal eutrophic regions through the ingestion and degradation of fresh organic matter.


ANDEEP Morphological diversity Taxonomic diversity Biogeography Bathymetric distribution 



We thank Prof. Angelika Brandt for inviting two of us (AJG and TC) to participate in the ANDEEP III expedition, and for making available material from the EBS and the AGT, Dr. Eberhard Fahrbach for the efficient running of the RV Polarstern ANTXXII/3 cruise, and the Captain, officers, and crew of the RV Polarstern for their help during the cruise. Professor Christoffer Schander is thanked for organizing the BIOSKAG and MØRE expeditions to the Skagerrak and west Norwegians fjords where additional material was sampled. We also thank Prof. Lisa Levin and Prof. Hiroshi Kitazato for permission to report unpublished gromiid records, as well as the reviewers (Drs Ana Aranda da Silva, Sam Bowser and Olga Kamenskaya) for their helpful comments. This research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK, project Ocean 2025. This is ANDEEP publication # 143.


  1. Altenbach AV (1992) Short term processes and patterns in the foraminiferal response to organic carbon flux rates. In: van der Zwaan GJ, Jorisson FJ, Zachariasse WJ (eds) Approaches of paleoproductivity reconstructions. Mar Micropaleontol 19:119–129Google Scholar
  2. Altenbach A, Sarnthein M (1989) Productivity record in benthic Foraminifera. In: Berger WH, Smetacek V, Wafer G (eds) Productivity of the ocean: present and past. Wiley, New York, pp 255–270Google Scholar
  3. Aranda da Silva A (2005) Benthic protozoan community attributes in relation to environmental gradients in the Arabian Sea. Dissertation, University of SouthamptonGoogle Scholar
  4. Aranda da Silva A, Gooday AJ (2009) Large organic-walled Protista (Gromia) in the Arabian Sea: density, diversity, distribution and ecology. Deep Sea Res Part II 56:422–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aranda da Silva A, Pawlowski J, Gooday AJ (2006) High diversity of deep-sea Gromia from the Arabian Sea revealed by small subunit rDNA sequence analysis. Mar Biol 148:769–777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arnold ZM (1951) Occurrence of Gromia oviformis Dujardin in California (Testacea). J Biol 9:351–353Google Scholar
  7. Arnold ZM (1972) Observations on the biology of the protozoan Gromia oviformis Dujardin. Univ Calif Publ Zool 100:1–168Google Scholar
  8. Bowser SS, Marko M, Bernhard JM (1996) Occurrence of Gromia oviformis in McMurdo Sound. Antarct J US 31:122–124Google Scholar
  9. Burki F, Berney C, Pawlowski J (2002) Phylogenetic position of Gromia oviformis Dujardin inferred from nuclear-encoded small Subunit Ribosomal DNA. Protist 153:251–260CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Diaz RJ (2004) Biological and physical processes structuring the deep-sea surface sediments in the Scotia and Weddell Seas, Antarctica. Deep Sea Res Part II 51:1515–1532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dower KM, Lucas MI, Phillips R, Dieckmann G, Robinson DH (1995) Phytoplankton biomass, P-I relationships and primary production on the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, during the Austral autumn. Polar Biol 16:41–52Google Scholar
  12. Dujardin F (1835) Observations nouvelles sur les Céphalopodes microscopiques. Ann Sci Nat, Paris Zool 3:108–109Google Scholar
  13. Fahrbach E (2006) The Expedition ANTARKTIS-XXII/3 of the Research Vessel “Polarstern” in 2005. Ber Polar- Meeresforsch 533:1–246Google Scholar
  14. Gooday AJ (1986) Meiofaunal foraminiferans from the bathyal Porcupine Seabight (northeast Atlantic): size structure, standing stock, taxonomic composition, species diversity and vertical distribution in the sediment. Deep Sea Res Part II 33:1345–1373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gooday AJ (1993) Deep-sea benthic foraminiferal species which exploit phytodetritus: characteristic features and controls on distribution. Mar Micropaleaontol 22:187–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gooday AJ, Bowser SS (2005) The second Gromia species (testate amoeba) from the deep sea: its natural history and association with the Pakistan margin oxygen minimum zone. Protist 156:113–126CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Gooday AJ, Rathburn AE (1999) Temporal variability in living deep-sea benthic Foraminifera: a review. Earth Sci Rev 46:187–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gooday AJ, Turley M (1990) Responses by benthic organisms to inputs of organic material to the ocean floor: a review. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 331:119–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gooday AJ, Bowser SS, Bernhard JM (1996) Benthic foraminiferal assemblages in Explorers Cove, Antarctica: a shallow water site with deep-sea characteristics. Progr Oceanogr 37:117–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gooday AJ, Bowser SS, Bett BJ, Smith CR (2000) A large testate protist, Gromia sphaerica sp nov (Order Filosea), from the bathyal Arabian Sea. Deep Sea Res Part II 47:55–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gooday AJ, Bowser SS, Cedhagen T, Cornelius N, Hlad M, Korsun S, Pawlowski J (2005) Monothalamous foraminiferans and gromiids (Protista) from western Svalbard: a preliminary survey. Mar Biol Res 1:290–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gooday AJ, Cedhagen T, Cornelius N (2006) Diversity and biogeography of deep-sea benthic Foraminifera—a combined molecular and morphological approach. In: Fahrbach E (ed) The Expedition ANTARKTIS-XXII3 of the Research Vessel “Polarstern” in 2005. Ber Polar- Meeresforsch 533:88–93Google Scholar
  23. Hedley RH (1960) The iron-containing shell of Gromia oviformis (Rhizopoda). Q J Microsc Sci 101:279–293Google Scholar
  24. Hedley RH, Bertaud WS (1962) Electron-microscopic observations of Gromia oviformis (Sarcodina). J Protozool 91:79–97Google Scholar
  25. Hedley RH, Wakefield JSJ (1969) Fine structure of Gromia oviformis (Rhizopodea: Protozoa). Bull Nat Hist Mus Zool 18:69–89Google Scholar
  26. Holm-Hansen O, Mitchell BG (1991) Spatial and temporal distribution of phytoplankton and primary production in the Western Bransfield Strait region. Deep Sea Res Part II 38:961–980CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoppema M, Goeyens L, Fahrbach E (2000) Intense nutrient removal in the remote area off Larson Ice Shelf (Weddell Sea). Polar Biol 23:85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Howe JA (2006) Recent sedimentation and geochemistry across the Northern Weddell Sea and adjacent deep-water regions, Antarctica. In: Fahrbach E (ed) The Expedition ANTARKTIS-XXII3 of the Research Vessel “Polarstern” in 2005. Ber Polar- Meeresforsch 533:196–208Google Scholar
  29. Howe JA, Shimmield TM, Diaz R (2004) Deep-water sedimentary environments of the northwestern Weddell Sea and South Sandwich Islands, Antarctica. Deep Sea Res Part II 51:1489–1514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jepps MW (1926) Contribution to the study of Gromia oviformis Dujardin. Q J Microscop Sci 70:701–719Google Scholar
  31. Jumars PA (1976) Deep-sea species diversity: does it have a characteristic scale? J Mar Res 34:217–246Google Scholar
  32. Kitazato H, Shirayama Y, Nakatsuka T, Fujiwara S, Shimanaga M, Kato Y, Okada Y, Kanda J, Yamaoka A, Masuzawa T, Suzuki K (2000) Seasonal phytodetritus deposition and responses of bathyal benthic foraminiferal populations in Sagami Bay, Japan: preliminary results from “Project Sagami 1996–1999”. Mar Micropaleontol 40:135–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mahot S, Dandpis JM, Lancelot C (1992) Gross and net primary production in the Scotia-Weddell Sea sector of the Southern Ocean during spring 1988. Polar Biol 12:321–332Google Scholar
  34. Marra J, Boardman DC (1984) Late winter chlorophyll a distributions in the Weddell Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 19:197–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Matz MV, Frank TM, Marshall NJ, Widder EA, Johnson S (2008) Giant deep-sea protist produces bilaterian-like traces. Curr Biol 18:1849–1854CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Norman AM (1892) Museum Normanium, pt 7–8, 15 pp, Durham, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  37. Odgen CG, Hedley RH (1980) An atlas of freshwater testate amoebae. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Ohga T, Kitazato H (1997) Seasonal changes in bathyal foraminiferal populations in response to the flux of organic matter (Sagami Bay, Japan). Terra Nova 9:33–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Orsi AH, Whitworth T III (2005) Hydrographic Atlas of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), vol 1. In: Sparrow M, Chapman P, Gould J (eds) Southern Ocean. International WOCE Project Office, Southampton, UKGoogle Scholar
  40. Park MG, Yang SR, Kang S-H, Chung KH, Shim JH (1999) Phytoplankton biomass and primary production in the marginal ice zone of the northwestern Weddell Sea during the Austral summer. Polar Biol 21:251–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pawlowski J, Fahrni JF, Guiard J, Conlan K, Hardecker J, Habura A, Bowser SS (2005) Allogromiid foraminifera and gromiids from under the Ross Ice Shelf: morphological and molecular diversity. Polar Biol 28:514–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Piña-Ochoa E, Høgslund S, Geslin E, Cedhagen T, Revsbech NP, Nielsen LP, Schweizer M, Jorissen F, Rysgaard S, Risgaard-Petersen N (2010) Widespread occurrence of nitrate storage and denitrification among Foraminifera and Gromiida. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:1148–1153CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Rose A, Cornelius N, DeMesel, I, Doner S, Gooday AJ, Henche A, Howe JA, Ingels J, Narayanaswamy BE (2006) Introduction to work at sea: Multicorer sampling during ANDEEP III. In: Fahrbach E (ed) The Expedition ANTARKTIS-XXII3 of the Research Vessel “Polarstern” in 2005. Ber Polar- Meeresforsch 533:85–87Google Scholar
  44. Rothe N (2009) Systematics and biogeography of Antarctic deep-sea gromiids. Dissertation, University of SouthamptonGoogle Scholar
  45. Rothe N, Gooday AJ, Cedhagen T, Fahrni J, Hughes A, Page A, Pearce R, Pawlowski J (2009) Three new species of deep-sea Gromia (Protista, Rhizaria) from the bathyal and abyssal Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Zool J Linn Soc 157:451–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schulze FE (1875) Gromia sp. Jahresbericht der Comm. zur wissenschaft. Unters. der deutschen Meere in Kiel, pp 1872–1873Google Scholar
  47. Von Bröckel K (1981) The importance of nanoplankton within the pelagic Antarctic ecosystem. Kiel Meeresforsch Sonderh 5:61–67Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Rothe
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Gooday
    • 1
  • Tomas Cedhagen
    • 2
  • J. Alan Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.National Oceanography CentreSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Biologisk InstitutAarhus UniversitetÅrhus NDenmark

Personalised recommendations