Microbial Ecology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 367–378 | Cite as

Links between Geographic Location, Environmental Factors, and Microbial Community Composition in Sediments of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

  • P.N. PolymenakouEmail author
  • S. Bertilsson
  • A. Tselepides
  • E.G. Stephanou


The bacterial community composition of marine surface sediments originating from various regions of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (12 sampling sites) was compared by parallel use of three fingerprinting methods: analysis of 16S rRNA gene fragment heterogeneity by denaturing gradient electrophoresis (DGGE), terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), and analysis of phospholipid-linked fatty acid composition (PLFA). Sampling sites were located at variable depths (30–2860 m; water column depth above the sediments) and the sediments differed greatly also in their degree of petroleum contamination (0.4–18 μg g−1), organic carbon (0.38–1.5%), and chlorophyll a content (0.01–7.7 μg g−1). Despite a high degree of correlation between the three different community fingerprint methods, some major differences were observed. DGGE banding patterns showed a significant separation of sediment communities from the northern, more productive waters of the Thermaikos Gulf and the oligotrophic waters of the Cretan, S. Ionian, and Levantine Sea. T-RFLP analysis clearly separated the communities of deep sediments (>1494 m depth) from their shallow (<617 m) counterparts. PLFA analysis grouped a shallow station from the productive waters of the north with the deep oligotrophic sediments from the Ionian and Levantine Sea, with low concentrations of PLFAs, and hence low microbial biomass, as the common denominator. The degree of petroleum contamination was not significantly correlated to the apparent composition of the microbial communities for any of the three methods, whereas organic carbon content and sediment chlorophyll a were important in this regard.


Petroleum Hydrocarbon Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Bacterial Community Composition Shallow Station Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The officers and the crew of the R/V Aegaeo and Philia are acknowledged for their assistance during the sampling. We also acknowledge three anonymous reviewers whose comments helped to improve the manuscript. This work was jointly supported by the Commission of the European Communities (through the Energy and Environment projects INTERPOL, ADIOS, and CYCLOPS), the Greek Ministry of Development (General Secretariat of Research and Technology), and from the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Special Planning (grants to S.B.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.N. Polymenakou
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • S. Bertilsson
    • 2
  • A. Tselepides
    • 1
  • E.G. Stephanou
    • 3
  1. 1.Hellenic Center for Marine ResearchGournes PediadosHeraklionGreece
  2. 2.Department of Limnology, Evolutionary Biology Center, Norbyv. 20, SE-752 36Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of ChemistryUniversity of CreteHeraklionGreece

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