17 Apr 2023
 | 17 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Single-celled bioturbators: benthic foraminifera mediate oxygen penetration and prokaryotic diversity in intertidal sediment

Dewi Langlet, Florian Mermillod-Blondin, Noémie Deldicq, Arthur Bauville, Gwendoline Duong, Lara Konecny, Mylène Hugoni, Lionel Denis, and Vincent M. P. Bouchet

Abstract. Bioturbation processes influence particulate (sediment reworking) and dissolved (bioirrigation) fluxes at the sediment-water interface. Recent works showed that benthic foraminifera largely contribute to sediment reworking in intertidal mudflats; yet their role in bioirrigation processes remains unknown. In a laboratory experiment, we showed that foraminifera motion-behavior increased the oxygen penetration depth and decreased the total organic content. Their activity in the top 5 mm of the sediment also affected prokaryotic community structure. Indeed, in bioturbated sediment, bacterial richness was reduced and sulfate reducing taxa abundance in deeper layers was also reduced, probably inhibited by the larger oxygen penetration depth. Since foraminifera can modify both particulate and dissolved fluxes, their role as bioturbators can no longer be neglected. They are further able to mediate the prokaryotic community, suggesting that they play a major role in the benthic ecosystem functioning and may be the first described single-celled eukaryotic ecosystem engineers.

Dewi Langlet et al.

Status: open (until 15 Jun 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-705', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 May 2023 reply
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Dewi Langlet et al.


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Short summary
Benthic foraminifera are single cell marine organisms which can move in the sediment column. They were previously reported to horizontally and vertically transport sediment particles, yet the impact of their motion on the dissolved fluxes remains unknown. Using microprofiling we here show that foraminiferal burrow formation increase the oxygen penetration depth in the sediment. Leading to a change in the structure of the prokaryotic community.