National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1999

Bacterial and viral abundances in hydrothermal event plumes over northern Gorda Ridge

Juniper, S.K., D.F. Bird, M. Summit, M.P. Vong, and E.T. Baker

Deep-Sea Res. Pt. II, 45(12), 2739–2749, doi: 10.1016/S0967-0645(98)00091-5 (1998)

This study presents first-time observations of bacterial and viral abundances in hydrothermal event plumes. Two water-column event plumes were formed in conjunction with seismic events and seafloor volcanic eruptions on the northern Gorda Ridge in February–March 1996. Epifluorescence counts of bacteria and viruses were performed on water samples from 3 successive cruises staged in the 10–90 days that followed the onset of seismicity. Relative to background seawater at these 1800–3200 m depths, bacterial abundance was enhanced by 2–3 fold within both event plumes. In contrast, viral numbers were below background seawater values in the younger and more intense of the two event plumes (EP96A), and enhanced in the other (EP96B). Changes in viral abundance may be a secondary response to that of plume bacteria as well as being influenced by particle formation and precipitation within the plumes. Lower bacteria/heat, virus/heat and virus/bacteria ratios in EP96A versus EP96B confirm distinct differences in the microbial response to event plume formation, possibly related to observed differences in plume chemistry.

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