Spatial (10 different locations) and temporal (2 years) changes in characteristics of the Marmara Sea Sediments were monitored to determine interactions between the chemical and microbial diversity. The sediments were rich in terms of hydrocarbon, nitrate, Ni and microbial cell content. Denitrifying, sulfate reducing, fermentative and methanogenic organisms were co-abundant in 15 cm below the sea floor. The local variations in the sediments' characteristics were more distinctive than the temporal ones. The sulfate and nitrate contents were the main drivers of the changes in the microbial community compositions. N and P were limited for microbial growth in the sediments, and their levels determined the total cell abundance and activity. Seasonal shifts in temperatures of the shallow sediments were also reflected in the active cell abundances. It was concluded that the Marmara Sea is a promising ecosystem for the further investigation of the ecologically important microbial processes. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.