MEPS 490:11-22 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10481

Enrichment of microbial abundance in the sea-surface microlayer over a coral reef: implications for biogeochemical cycles in reef ecosystems

Ryota Nakajima1,*, Kenji Tsuchiya2, Nobuyuki Nakatomi2, Teruaki Yoshida3, Yuya Tada4, Fumie Konno2, Tatsuki Toda2, Victor S. Kuwahara2, Koji Hamasaki5, Bin Haji Ross Othman3, Thirukanthan C. Segaran5, Abdul Wahid Mohd Effendy5

1Marine Biodiversity Research Program, Institute of Biogiosciences, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
2Graduate School of Engineering, Soka University, 1-236 Tangi-cho, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-8577, Japan
3Marine Ecosystem Research Centre, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
4Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, N10W5, Kita- ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan
5Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan
6Institute of Marine Biotechnology, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, 21030 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

ABSTRACT: In order to test the hypothesis that the microbial enrichment in the sea-surface microlayer (SML) over coral reefs is significant, we investigated the abundance and production of the microbial community in the SML and sub-surface water (SSW) at a fringing coral reef of Malaysia. Samples were taken at 2 coral sites with different live coral coverage as well as one offshore site. We detected substantially high enrichment factors (EFs) in abundance (where EF = SML/SSW: the ratio of microbial abundance in the SML relative to SSW) for all biological groups at all sites: up to 6.0 for heterotrophic bacteria, 4.2 for cyanobacteria, 18.8 for autotrophic nanoflagellates and 22.6 for heterotrophic nanoflagellates. We also found that the enrichment factors of microorganisms in coral reefs were remarkably higher than in other marine ecosystems, and a higher concentration of microorganisms was observed in the higher coral coverage site, probably due to higher organic matter released by corals. The higher microbial abundance in the SML over coral reefs may enhance gaseous exchange and carbon flow in the food web through the air–sea interface.


KEY WORDS: Sea-surface microlayer · SML · Bacteria · Flagellates · Coral coverage


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Cite this article as: Nakajima R, Tsuchiya K, Nakatomi N, Yoshida T and others (2013) Enrichment of microbial abundance in the sea-surface microlayer over a coral reef: implications for biogeochemical cycles in reef ecosystems. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 490:11-22. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10481

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