Phospholipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA) and respiratory quinones (RQ) are microbial compounds that have been utilized as biomarkers to quantify bacterial biomass and to characterize microbial community structure in sediments, waters, and soils. While PLFAs have been widely used as quantitative bacterial biomarkers in marine sediments, applications of quinone analysis in marine sediments are very limited. In this study, we investigated the relation between both groups of bacterial biomarkers in a broad range of marine sediments from the intertidal zone to the deep sea. We found a good log-log correlation between concentrations of bacterial PLFA and RQ over several orders of magnitude. This relationship is probably due to metabolic variation in quinone concentrations in bacterial cells in different environments, whereas PLFA concentrations are relatively stable under different conditions. We also found a good agreement in the community structure classifications based on the bacterial PLFAs and RQs. These results strengthen the application of both compounds as quantitative bacterial biomarkers. Moreover, the bacterial PLFA- and RQ profiles revealed a comparable dissimilarity pattern of the sampled sediments, but with a higher level of dissimilarity for the RQs. This means that the quinone method has a higher resolution for resolving differences in bacterial community composition. Combining PLFA and quinone analysis as a complementary method is a good strategy to yield higher resolving power in bacterial community structure.
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