• mineralization;
  • 14C-glutamate and glucose;
  • bacteria;
  • sinking particles;
  • fish farming impact


Microbial mineralization rates in sinking particles, bottom sediments and seawater were determined in a coastal fish (red sea bream Pagrus major) culturing area to clarify the mineralization process of organic matter (OM) in the entire water column. The mineralization rates of 14C-labelled glutamate and glucose per unit volume were highest in the sinking particles and were 131–572 and 7–49 times higher than those of the seawater and bottom sediments respectively. The turnover time of glutamate tended to be shorter than that of glucose at all three sites of the water column. Bacteria appeared to prefer amino acids to monosaccharides because amino acids could be utilized as both energy and nitrogen sources. The sedimentation rate of particulate organic carbon (POC) derived from phytoplankton accounted for 9–61% of the total POC, and it was particularly high in early summer (61% and 50% at fish cage and non-cage stations respectively). The present study clearly shows that sinking particles serve as an important site of microbial mineralization process of OM within the water column, and that phytoplankton production was another serious cause of organic pollution of the seafloor in addition to the organic wastes directly discharged from fish farms.