Microbial biomass and activity distribution in an anoxic, hypersaline basin. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Orca Basin is a hypersaline depression in the northern Gulf of Mexico with anoxic conditions observed in the lower 200 m of the water column. Measurements of adenosine 5'-triphosphate, heterotrophic potential, and uridine uptake made above and across the interface into the anoxic zone revealed the presence of an active microbial population approximately 100 m above the interface. Biomass and activity decreased at and just below the interface but increased near the bottom, consistent with similar observations made in the Cariaco Trench. The maximum adenosine 5'-triphosphate concentration above the interface of 5.9 ng/liter (2,173 m) is about eight times greater than the value found in oxygenated waters of corresponding depth in the absence of an anoxic zone. The maximum adenosine 5'-triphosphate concentration in the anoxic zone is approximately 15 times greater than that found in oxygenated water of similar depth, suggesting anoxia will support the development of a larger bacterial population. Our findings suggest that autotrophic bacteria may be the dominant physiological group in the region just above the interface.

published proceedings

  • Appl Environ Microbiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Larock, P. A., Lauer, R. D., Schwarz, J. R., Watanabe, K. K., & Wiesenburg, D. A

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Larock, PA||Lauer, RD||Schwarz, JR||Watanabe, KK||Wiesenburg, DA

publication date

  • March 1979