Turnover of microbial lipids in the deep biosphere and growth of benthic archaeal populations.
ABSTRACT: Deep subseafloor sediments host a microbial biosphere with unknown impact on global biogeochemical cycles. This study tests previous evidence based on microbial intact polar lipids (IPLs) as proxies of live biomass, suggesting that Archaea dominate the marine sedimentary biosphere. We devised a sensitive radiotracer assay to measure the decay rate of ([(14)C]glucosyl)-diphytanylglyceroldiether (GlcDGD) as an analog of archaeal IPLs in continental margin sediments. The degradation kinetics were incorporated in model simulations that constrained the fossil fraction of subseafloor IPLs and rates of archaeal turnover. Simulating the top 1 km in a generic continental margin sediment column, we estimated degradation rate constants of GlcDGD being one to two orders of magnitude lower than those of bacterial IPLs, with half-lives of GlcDGD increasing with depth to 310 ky. Given estimated microbial community turnover times of 1.6-73 ky in sediments deeper than 1 m, 50-96% of archaeal IPLs represent fossil signals. Consequently, previous lipid-based estimates of global subseafloor biomass probably are too high, and the widely observed dominance of archaeal IPLs does not rule out a deep biosphere dominated by Bacteria. Reverse modeling of existing concentration profiles suggest that archaeal IPL synthesis rates decline from around 1,000 pg?mL(-1) sediment?y(-1) at the surface to 0.2 pg?mL(-1)?y(-1) at 1 km depth, equivalent to production of 7 × 10(5) to 140 archaeal cells?mL(-1) sediment?y(-1), respectively. These constraints on microbial growth are an important step toward understanding the relationship between the deep biosphere and the carbon cycle.
Project description:The deep subseafloor biosphere is among the least-understood habitats on Earth, even though the huge microbial biomass therein plays an important role for potential long-term controls on global biogeochemical cycles. We report here the vertical and geographical distribution of microbes and their phylogenetic diversities in deeply buried marine sediments of the Pacific Ocean Margins. During the Ocean Drilling Program Legs 201 and 204, we obtained sediment cores from the Peru and Cascadia Margins that varied with respect to the presence of dissolved methane and methane hydrate. To examine differences in prokaryotic distribution patterns in sediments with or without methane hydrates, we studied >2,800 clones possessing partial sequences (400-500 bp) of the 16S rRNA gene and 348 representative clone sequences (approximately 1 kbp) from the two geographically separated subseafloor environments. Archaea of the uncultivated Deep-Sea Archaeal Group were consistently the dominant phylotype in sediments associated with methane hydrate. Sediment cores lacking methane hydrates displayed few or no Deep-Sea Archaeal Group phylotypes. Bacterial communities in the methane hydrate-bearing sediments were dominated by members of the JS1 group, Planctomycetes, and Chloroflexi. Results from cluster and principal component analyses, which include previously reported data from the West and East Pacific Margins, suggest that, for these locations in the Pacific Ocean, prokaryotic communities from methane hydrate-bearing sediment cores are distinct from those in hydrate-free cores. The recognition of which microbial groups prevail under distinctive subseafloor environments is a significant step toward determining the role these communities play in Earth's essential biogeochemical processes.
Project description:Marine cold seeps transmit fluids between the subseafloor and seafloor biospheres through upward migration of hydrocarbons that originate in deep sediment layers. It remains unclear how geofluids influence the composition of the seabed microbiome and if they transport deep subsurface life up to the surface. Here we analyzed 172 marine surficial sediments from the deep-water Eastern Gulf of Mexico to assess whether hydrocarbon fluid migration is a mechanism for upward microbial dispersal. While 132 of these sediments contained migrated liquid hydrocarbons, evidence of continuous advective transport of thermogenic alkane gases was observed in 11 sediments. Gas seeps harbored distinct microbial communities featuring bacteria and archaea that are well-known inhabitants of deep biosphere sediments. Specifically, 25 distinct sequence variants within the uncultivated bacterial phyla Atribacteria and Aminicenantes and the archaeal order Thermoprofundales occurred in significantly greater relative sequence abundance along with well-known seep-colonizing members of the bacterial genus Sulfurovum, in the gas-positive sediments. Metabolic predictions guided by metagenome-assembled genomes suggested these organisms are anaerobic heterotrophs capable of nonrespiratory breakdown of organic matter, likely enabling them to inhabit energy-limited deep subseafloor ecosystems. These results point to petroleum geofluids as a vector for the advection-assisted upward dispersal of deep biosphere microbes from subsurface to surface environments, shaping the microbiome of cold seep sediments and providing a general mechanism for the maintenance of microbial diversity in the deep sea.
Project description:Submarine mud volcanoes (SMVs) are formed by muddy sediments and breccias extruded to the seafloor from a source in the deep subseafloor and are characterized by the discharge of methane and other hydrocarbon gasses and deep-sourced fluids into the overlying seawater. Although SMVs act as a natural pipeline connecting the Earth's surface and subsurface biospheres, the dispersal of deep-biosphere microorganisms and their ecological roles remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the microbial communities in sediment and overlying seawater at two SMVs located on the Ryukyu Trench off Tanegashima Island, southern Japan. The microbial communities in mud volcano sediments were generally distinct from those in the overlying seawaters and in the well-stratified Pacific margin sediments collected at the Peru Margin, the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank off Oregon, and offshore of Shimokita Peninsula, northeastern Japan. Nevertheless, in-depth analysis of different taxonomic groups at the sub-species level revealed that the taxon affiliated with Atribacteria, heterotrophic anaerobic bacteria that typically occur in organic-rich anoxic subseafloor sediments, were commonly found not only in SMV sediments but also in the overlying seawater. We designed a new oligonucleotide probe for detecting Atribacteria using the catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH). CARD-FISH, digital PCR and sequencing analysis of 16S rRNA genes consistently showed that Atribacteria are abundant in the methane plumes of the two SMVs (0.58 and 1.5 × 104 cells/mL, respectively) but not in surrounding waters, suggesting that microbial cells in subseafloor sediments are dispersed as "deep-biosphere seeds" into the ocean. These findings may have important implications for the microbial transmigration between the deep subseafloor biosphere and the hydrosphere.
Project description:Phylogenetically diverse microorganisms have been observed in marine subsurface sediments down to ~2.5 km below the seafloor (kmbsf). However, very little is known about the pressure-adapted and/or pressure-loving microorganisms, the so called piezophiles, in the deep subseafloor biosphere, despite that pressure directly affects microbial physiology, metabolism, and biogeochemical processes of carbon and other elements in situ. In this study, we studied taxonomic compositions of microbial communities in high-pressure incubated sediment, obtained during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 337 off the Shimokita Peninsula, Japan. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene-tagged sequences showed that members of spore-forming bacteria within Firmicutes and Actinobacteria were predominantly detected in all enrichment cultures from ~1.5 to 2.4 km-deep sediment samples, followed by members of Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Bacteroidetes according to the sequence frequency. To further study the physiology of the deep subseafloor sedimentary piezophilic bacteria, we isolated and characterized two bacterial strains, 19R1-5 and 29R7-12, from 1.9 and 2.4 km-deep sediment samples, respectively. The isolates were both low G+C content, gram-positive, endospore-forming and facultative anaerobic piezophilic bacteria, closely related to Virgibacillus pantothenticus and Bacillus subtilis within the phylum Firmicutes, respectively. The optimal pressure and temperature conditions for growth were 20 MPa and 42°C for strain 19R1-5, and 10 MPa and 43°C for strain 29R7-12. Bacterial (endo)spores were observed in both the enrichment and pure cultures examined, suggesting that these piezophilic members were derived from microbial communities buried in the ~20 million-year-old coal-bearing sediments after the long-term survival as spores and that the deep biosphere may host more abundant gram-positive spore-forming bacteria and their spores than hitherto recognized.
Project description:Microbial cells buried in subseafloor sediments comprise a substantial portion of Earth's biosphere and control global biogeochemical cycles; however, the rate at which they use energy (i.e., power) is virtually unknown. Here, we quantify organic matter degradation and calculate the power utilization of microbial cells throughout Earth's Quaternary-age subseafloor sediments. Aerobic respiration, sulfate reduction, and methanogenesis mediate 6.9, 64.5, and 28.6% of global subseafloor organic matter degradation, respectively. The total power utilization of the subseafloor sediment biosphere is 37.3 gigawatts, less than 0.1% of the power produced in the marine photic zone. Aerobic heterotrophs use the largest share of global power (54.5%) with a median power utilization of 2.23 × 10-18 watts per cell, while sulfate reducers and methanogens use 1.08 × 10-19 and 1.50 × 10-20 watts per cell, respectively. Most subseafloor cells subsist at energy fluxes lower than have previously been shown to support life, calling into question the power limit to life.
Project description:In deep-sea geothermal rift zones, the dispersal of hydrothermal fluids of moderately-high temperatures typically forms subseafloor mounds. Major mineral components of the crust covering the mound are barite and metal sulfides. As a result of the continental rifting along the Red Sea, metalliferous sediments accumulate on the seafloor of the Atlantis II Deep. In the present study, a barite crust was identified in a sediment core from the Atlantis II Deep, indicating the formation of a hydrothermal mound at the sampling site. Here, we examined how such a dense barite crust could affect the local environment and the distribution of microbial inhabitants. Our results demonstrate distinctive features of mineral components and microbial communities in the sediment layers separated by the barite crust. Within the mound, archaea accounted for 65% of the community. In contrast, the sediments above the barite boundary were overwhelmed by bacteria. The composition of microbial communities under the mound was similar to that in the sediments of the nearby Discovery Deep and marine cold seeps. This work reveals the zonation of microbial communities after the formation of the hydrothermal mound in the subsurface sediments of the rift basin.
Project description:The stratified water column of the Black Sea serves as a model ecosystem for studying the interactions of microorganisms with major biogeochemical cycles. Here we provide detailed analysis of isoprenoid quinones to study microbial redox processes in the ocean. In a continuum from the photic zone through the chemocline into deep anoxic sediments of the southern Black Sea, diagnostic quinones and inorganic geochemical parameters indicate niche segregation between redox processes and corresponding shifts in microbial community composition. Quinones specific for oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration dominate oxic waters, while quinones associated with thaumarchaeal ammonia-oxidation and bacterial methanotrophy, respectively, dominate a narrow interval in suboxic waters. Quinone distributions indicate highest metabolic diversity within the anoxic zone, with anoxygenic photosynthesis being a major process in its photic layer. In the dark anoxic layer, quinone profiles indicate occurrence of bacterial sulfur and nitrogen cycling, archaeal methanogenesis, and archaeal methanotrophy. Multiple novel ubiquinone isomers, possibly originating from unidentified intra-aerobic anaerobes, occur in this zone. The respiration modes found in the anoxic zone continue into shallow subsurface sediments, but quinone abundances rapidly decrease within the upper 50 cm below sea floor, reflecting the transition to lower energy availability. In the deep subseafloor sediments, quinone distributions and geochemical profiles indicate archaeal methanogenesis/methanotrophy and potentially bacterial fermentative metabolisms. We observed that sedimentary quinone distributions track lithology, which supports prior hypotheses that deep biosphere community composition and metabolisms are determined by environmental conditions during sediment deposition.Importance Microorganisms play crucial roles in global biogeochemical cycles. Yet, we have only a fragmentary understanding of the diversity of microorganisms and their metabolisms, as the majority remains uncultured. Thus, culture-independent approaches are critical for determining microbial diversity and active metabolic processes. In order to resolve the stratification of microbial communities in the Black Sea, we comprehensively analyzed redox process-specific isoprenoid quinone biomarkers in a unique continuous record from the photic zone through the chemocline into anoxic subsurface sediments. We describe an unprecedented quinone diversity that allowed us to detect distinct biogeochemical processes including oxygenic photosynthesis, archaeal ammonia oxidation, aerobic methanotrophy and anoxygenic photosynthesis in defined geochemical zones.
Project description:Fjords and continental shelves represent distinct marine ecosystems in the pan-arctic region. Kongsfjorden is a glacial fjord that is located on the west coast of Svalbard, and is influenced by both Atlantic and Arctic water masses. The Bering Sea consists of a huge continental shelf in the northeast and a deep ocean basin in the southwest, and is influenced by Pacific water. Microbial community compositions of Arctic sediment samples BJ4 from outer basin and BJ36 from inner basin of Kongsfjorden and sub-Arctic samples NEC5 from shallow shelf and DBS1 from deep basin region of the northern Bering Sea were investigated using 454 pyrosequencing of archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Most archaeal sequences in the sediments were related to Thaumarchaeota, though Euryarchaeota were more abundant in the Arctic glacier-influencing inner basin sediment BJ36. Thaumarchaeota Group C3 was the dominant archaeal population in all samples. Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes dominated the sediment bacterial communities. Acidobacteria and Actinobacteria were also dominant in the northern Bering Sea samples. Alphaproteobacteria and Epsilonproteobacteria were the two main classes in Kongsfjorden sediment bacterial communities while Deltaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were dominant in the northern Bering Sea sediments. Differences in the presence and abundance of other dominant archaeal and bacterial populations were observed among sediment samples. In contrast to archaeal community differences that the Arctic BJ36 archaeal community was distinct from the sub-Arctic sediments and the Arctic outer basin sediment BJ4, cluster analysis based on bacterial OTU (operational taxonomic unit) distributions indicated that the Arctic and sub-Arctic bacterial communities segregated from one another. These results suggest that the sediment archaeal and bacterial community compositions can be driven by different environmental factors. Differences in the presence and abundance of particular archaeal species (e.g., Candidatus Nitrosopumilus and Methanococcoides) or bacterial species (e.g., Sulfurimonas, Sulfurovum, and Desulfobulbaceae) involved in biogeochemical cycles were also observed among sediment samples. At the same time, despite the community variation, some phylotypes (e.g., Marinicella) were dominant in all sediments. This study indicates diverse microbial communities inhabiting pan-arctic marine sediments, and highlights potential roles for Archaea and Bacteria in global biogeochemical cycles in these environments.
Project description:The subseafloor marine biosphere may be one of the largest reservoirs of microbial biomass on Earth and has recently been the subject of debate in terms of the composition of its microbial inhabitants, particularly on sediments from the Peru Margin. A metagenomic analysis was made by using whole-genome amplification and pyrosequencing of sediments from Ocean Drilling Program Site 1229 on the Peru Margin to further explore the microbial diversity and overall community composition within this environment. A total of 61.9 Mb of genetic material was sequenced from sediments at horizons 1, 16, 32, and 50 m below the seafloor. These depths include sediments from both primarily sulfate-reducing methane-generating regions of the sediment column. Many genes of the annotated genes, including those encoding ribosomal proteins, corresponded to those from the Chloroflexi and Euryarchaeota. However, analysis of the 16S small-subunit ribosomal genes suggests that Crenarchaeota are the abundant microbial member. Quantitative PCR confirms that uncultivated Crenarchaeota are indeed a major microbial group in these subsurface samples. These findings show that the marine subsurface is a distinct microbial habitat and is different from environments studied by metagenomics, especially because of the predominance of uncultivated archaeal groups.
Project description:Development of an improved technique for separating microbial cells from marine sediments and standardization of a high-throughput and discriminative cell enumeration method were conducted. We separated microbial cells from various types of marine sediment and then recovered the cells using multilayer density gradients of sodium polytungstate and/or Nycodenz, resulting in a notably higher percent recovery of cells than previous methods. The efficiency of cell extraction generally depends on the sediment depth; using the new technique we developed, more than 80% of the total cells were recovered from shallow sediment samples (down to 100 meters in depth), whereas ~50% of cells were recovered from deep samples (100-365 m in depth). The separated cells could be rapidly enumerated using flow cytometry (FCM). The data were in good agreement with those obtained from manual microscopic direct counts over the range 10(4)-10(8) cells cm(-3). We also demonstrated that sedimentary microbial cells can be efficiently collected using a cell sorter. The combined use of our new cell separation and FCM/cell sorting techniques facilitates high-throughput and precise enumeration of microbial cells in sediments and is amenable to various types of single-cell analyses, thereby enhancing our understanding of microbial life in the largely uncharacterized deep subseafloor biosphere.