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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 193:251-259 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps193251

Sulphide tolerance of the marine nematode Oncholaimus campylocercoides--a result of internal sulphur formation?

Frank Thiermann1,*, Bent Vismann2, Olav Giere1

1Zoologisches Institut und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Marinbiologisk Laboratorium Helsingør, Københavns Universitet, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark

ABSTRACT: The free-living, marine nematode Oncholaimus campylocercoides occurs in high abundance (up to 600 ind. 10 cm-2) at the fringe area of shallow-water hydrothermal vents off the Greek island of Milos in the Aegean Sea. It was found to have a sulphide tolerance (LT50) of 4.5 d at 500 µM sulphide concentration and of 4 d at 1 mM sulphide. Light- and electron-microscopical inspections showed that the non-symbiotic O. campylocercoides, when exposed to sulphidic conditions, develops oily to viscous inclusions in the epidermis consisting of elemental sulphur in the form of S8-rings and polysulphur chains. The longer the exposure to sulphidic conditions, the more sulphur was formed, which disappeared after re-introduction of the nematodes in normoxic conditions for 12 h. Based on these results and on tolerance experiments with hydrogen sulphide, we suggest a model of sulphide metabolism in O. campylocercoides which could relate to its occurrence in sulphidic, hydrothermal sediments.

KEY WORDS: Hydrothermal vents · Nematodes · Oncholaimidae · Sulphur inclusions · Sulphur metabolism · Thiobios · Hydrogen sulphide

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