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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 372:67-75 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07724

Organic matter release by cold water corals and its implication for fauna–microbe interaction

Christian Wild1,*, Christoph Mayr2, Laura Wehrmann1,3, Sandra Schöttner1,3, Malik Naumann1, Friederike Hoffmann3, Hans Tore Rapp4

1Coral Reef Ecology Work Group (CORE), GeoBio-Center and Department of Earth & Environmental Science, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Richard Wagner Str. 10, 80333 Munich, Germany
2GeoBio-Center and Department of Earth & Environmental Science, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Richard Wagner Str. 10,
80333 Munich, Germany
3Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstr. 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
4University of Bergen, Centre for Geobiology and Department of Biology, PO Box 7800, Bergen, Norway

ABSTRACT: Particulate (POM) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) released by the cold water corals Lophelia pertusa (L.) and Madrepora oculata (L.) was collected, analysed and quantitatively compared to that released by warm water reef-building corals. Particulate nitrogen (PN) and particulate organic carbon (POC) release rates of L. pertusa were 0.14 ± 0.07 mg N m–2 h–1 and 1.43 ± 1.22 mg C m–2 h–1, respectively, which is in the lower range of POM release rates measured for warm water corals, while dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release was 47 ± 19 mg C m–2 h–1. The resulting high DOC:POC ratio indicates that most cold water coral-derived organic matter immediately dissolved in the water column. Cold water corals, similar to their warm water counterparts, produced large amounts of nitrogen-rich coral mucus with C:N ratios of 5 to 7 for Lophelia- and 7 to 9 for Madrepora-derived mucus. A 7-fold increase in the oxygen consumption rates in cold water coral mucus-amended seawater containing the natural microbial assemblage indicates that this organic matter provided an attractive food source for pelagic microbes. In situ investigations at Røst Reef, Norway, showed that microbial activity in the seawater closest to the reef was 10 times higher than in the overlying water column. This suggests that cold water corals can stimulate microbial activity in the direct reef vicinity by the release of easily degradable and nutrient-rich organic matter, which may thereby function as a vector for carbon and nutrient cycling via the microbial loop in cold water coral reef systems.


KEY WORDS: Coral reefs · Cold water corals · Lophelia pertusa · Madrepora oculata · Organic matter release · Microbial ecology · Fauna–microbe interaction


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Cite this article as: Wild C, Mayr C, Wehrmann L, Schöttner S, Naumann M, Hoffmann F, Rapp HT (2008) Organic matter release by cold water corals and its implication for fauna–microbe interaction. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 372:67-75. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07724

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