Marine Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 113–122 | Cite as

Dehydrogenases as tools in the study of marine sediments

  • W. Wieser
  • M. Zech


A method is outlined for the measurement of NADH2-dependent dehydrogenase activity in whole samples as well as in fractions of carbonate sediments. The method is based on extraction of enzyme activity with phosphate buffer containing 0.12% Triton X-100, dialysis, and a photometric assay which permits initial velocity determinations of the enzyme reaction under controlled conditions of pH, temperature, and substrate concentration. The dehydrogenases extracted from carbonate sediment of a subtropical beach at Bermuda are characterized by low K m values (0.03 to 0.07 mM NADH2/1), pH maxima around 8.5, and temperature maxima between 35° and 40°C. Their vertical distribution in the sediment agrees with what is known about the distribution of biomass on beaches of this type, maximum activity occurring in the topmost centimetre. Approximately 80 to 90% of the total electron transport activity is contained in the grain fraction, the remainder in the interstitial fraction of a sediment sample. From this it can be inferred that the interstitial fauna contributes only little to the total energy budget of this type of sediment, which is dominated by the “Aufwuchs” on the sand grains. The electron transport activity (ETA) measured by means of the dehydrogenase assay is taken to represent the maximum transport capacity (ETC) of all the organisms living in the sand ecosystem. From published evidence it is inferred that oxygen consumption of sediment samples and of individual organisms measured in vivo usually accounts for 10 to 20% of the maximum electron transport capacity measured in vitro with saturating concentrations of substrates and with Triton X-100 as part of the enzyme assay. It is suggested further that the ratios of dehydrogenase activities in different fractions or zones of sediment, or of different organisms, may represent one of the best indicators, so far available, of energy relationships in marine sediments.


Beach Sediment Sample Marine Sediment Dehydrogenase Activity Meiofauna 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Wieser
    • 1
  • M. Zech
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Zoophysiologie der Universität InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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