Skip to main content
Surfactant-Associated Bacteria in the Near-Surface Layer of the Ocean
Scientific Reports
  • Naoko Kurata, Nova Southeastern University
  • Katie E. Vella, Nova Southeastern University
  • Bryan Hamilton, Nova Southeastern University
  • Mahmood S. Shivji, Nova Southeastern University
  • Alexander Soloviev, Nova Southeastern University
  • Silvia Matt, Nova Southeastern University
  • Aurelien Tartar, Nova Southeastern University
  • William Perrie, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
Document Type
Publication Date
Peer Reviewed
Certain marine bacteria found in the near-surface layer of the ocean are expected to play important roles in the production and decay of surface active materials; however, the details of these processes are still unclear. Here we provide evidence supporting connection between the presence of surfactant-associated bacteria in the near-surface layer of the ocean, slicks on the sea surface, and a distinctive feature in the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery of the sea surface. From DNA analyses of the in situ samples using pyrosequencing technology, we found the highest abundance of surfactant-associated bacterial taxa in the near-surface layer below the slick. Our study suggests that production of surfactants by marine bacteria takes place in the organic-rich areas of the water column. Produced surfactants can then be transported to the sea surface and form slicks when certain physical conditions are met. This finding has potential applications in monitoring organic materials in the water column using remote sensing techniques. Identifying a connection between marine bacteria and production of natural surfactants may provide a better understanding of the global picture of biophysical processes at the boundary between the ocean and atmosphere, air-sea exchange of greenhouse gases, and production of climate-active marine aerosols.
Citation Information
Naoko Kurata, Katie E. Vella, Bryan Hamilton, Mahmood S. Shivji, et al.. "Surfactant-Associated Bacteria in the Near-Surface Layer of the Ocean" Scientific Reports Vol. 6 (2016) p. 19123 ISSN: 2045-2322
Available at: