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      Vertical variation in Vibrio community composition in Sansha Yongle Blue Hole and its ability to degrade macromolecules

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          With the advantages of wide distribution, fast growth, and broad metabolic spectrum to organic carbon compounds, Vibrio may play an important role in organic carbon cycling. However, the ecological roles of Vibrio in many marine environments have not been explored. Here, the world’s deepest ‘blue hole’, the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole (SYBH) in the South China Sea, which is a geographically semi-enclosed environment featuring unique chemical characters, was investigated. The abundance, diversity and carbon source utilization capability of Vibrio were studied by quantification and high-throughput sequencing of Vibrio specific 16S rRNA genes and cultivation methods. The abundance of Vibrio in water column of the SYBH ranged from 3.78×10 4 to 7.35×10 6 16S rRNA gene copies L –1. Free-living Vibrio was more abundant than particle-associated Vibrio (~ 1.20×10 6 versus ~2.68×10 5 gene copies L –1), indicating that Vibrio prefers a free-living life style. The Vibrio assemblages showed clear vertical stratification and could be divided into three groups: aerobic-transition, middle anaerobic and bottom anaerobic zones. Dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, pH and salinity were the main environmental factors affecting the abundance and community composition. Cultivated Vibrio demonstrated a degrading capability to various macromolecular substrates, including starch, Tween 20/40/80, DNA, gelatin, alginate, casein, chitin, lecithin, κ-carrageenan, mannan, xylan and hyaluronic acid. This suggests that Vibrio could produce a variety of highly active extracellular enzymes. Our study provides new insights into the distribution pattern and possible role in carbon cycle of Vibrio in the unique environment of a ‘blue hole’.

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          Author and article information

          Marine Life Science & Technology
          Springer (China )
          01 February 2020
          27 September 2019
          : 2
          : 1
          : 60-72
          1College of Marine Life Sciences, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Road, Qingdao 266003, China
          2Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental Science, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China
          3Sansha Track Ocean Coral Reef Conservation Research Institute, Sansha 573199, China
          4Key Laboratory of Marine Chemistry Theory and Technology, Ministry of Education/Institute for Advanced Ocean Study, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
          5College of Marine Geosciences, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
          6Institute of Evolution and Marine Biodiversity, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, China
          Author notes
          *Corresponding author: Xiao-Hua Zhang, E-mail: xhzhang@

          Bei Li and Jiwen Liu contributed equally to this work.

          © 2019 The Author(s)

          This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

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