Biomarkers in the stratified water column of the Landsort Deep (Baltic Sea)
Abstract. The water column of the Landsort Deep, central Baltic Sea, is stratified into an oxic, suboxic, and anoxic zone. This stratification controls the distributions of individual microbial communities and biogeochemical processes. In summer 2011, particulate organic matter was filtered from these zones using an in situ pump. Lipid biomarkers were extracted from the filters to establish water-column profiles of individual hydrocarbons, alcohols, phospholipid fatty acids, and bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs). As a reference, a cyanobacterial bloom sampled in summer 2012 in the central Baltic Sea Gotland Deep was analyzed for BHPs. The biomarker data from the surface layer of the oxic zone showed major inputs from cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, and ciliates, while the underlying cold winter water layer was characterized by a low diversity and abundance of organisms, with copepods as a major group. The suboxic zone supported bacterivorous ciliates, type I aerobic methanotrophic bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and, most likely, methanogenic archaea. In the anoxic zone, sulfate reducers and archaea were the dominating microorganisms as indicated by the presence of distinctive branched fatty acids: archaeol and pentamethylicosane (PMI) derivatives, respectively. Our study of in situ biomarkers in the Landsort Deep thus provided an integrated insight into the distribution of relevant compounds and describes useful tracers to reconstruct stratified water columns in the geological record.