MEPS 179:241-246 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps179241

Activity of marine sediment bacterial communities exposed to 4-bromophenol, a polychaete secondary metabolite

Charles R. Lovell*, Charles C. Steward**, Tina Phillips

Department of Biological Sciences and Belle W. Baruch Institute of Marine Science and Coastal Research, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
*Address for correspondence: Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA. E-mail:
**Present address: Reckitt & Colman Inc., One Philips Parkway, PO Box 425, Montvale, New Jersey 07645-0425, USA

ABSTRACT: Many marine infaunal hemichordates and polychaetes produce volatile halogenated secondary metabolites, including several brominated aromatic compounds. These compounds have been suggested to have antimicrobial activity. However, the impact of added bromometabolites on microbial activities in undisturbed sediments has not been assessed. This study examines the effects of a common bromometabolite, 4-bromophenol, on substrate respiration and assimilation by undisturbed sediment bacterial communities. Intact sediment cores were collected from a site inhabited by the bromophenol producing capitellid polychaete Notomastus lobatus and from a similar site having no bromometabolite producing infauna. These cores were injected with a radiolabeled substrate (acetate or glucose) and varying levels of 4-bromophenol, then incubated at in situ temperature. Rates of respiration and assimilation of the substrates at levels of 4-bromophenol ranging from ambient to 10 µg g-1 (dry weight) sediment were determined. No significant inhibition of respiration or assimilation of either substrate was observed in samples from either location, even at 4-bromophenol levels 100x the ambient concentration in wormbed sediments. These data show that this naturally occurring bromoaromatic compound has no significant effect on community activity of sediment bacteria.


KEY WORDS: Bromophenols · Bromometabolites · Marine sediment · Bacterial activity


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