Bacterial diversity and community composition from seasurface to subseafloor.
ABSTRACT: We investigated compositional relationships between bacterial communities in the water column and those in deep-sea sediment at three environmentally distinct Pacific sites (two in the Equatorial Pacific and one in the North Pacific Gyre). Through pyrosequencing of the v4-v6 hypervariable regions of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, we characterized 450,104 pyrotags representing 29,814 operational taxonomic units (OTUs, 97% similarity). Hierarchical clustering and non-metric multidimensional scaling partition the samples into four broad groups, regardless of geographic location: a photic-zone community, a subphotic community, a shallow sedimentary community and a subseafloor sedimentary community (?1.5 meters below seafloor). Abundance-weighted community compositions of water-column samples exhibit a similar trend with depth at all sites, with successive epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic and abyssopelagic communities. Taxonomic richness is generally highest in the water-column O2 minimum zone and lowest in the subseafloor sediment. OTUs represented by abundant tags in the subseafloor sediment are often present but represented by few tags in the water column, and represented by moderately abundant tags in the shallow sediment. In contrast, OTUs represented by abundant tags in the water are generally absent from the subseafloor sediment. These results are consistent with (i) dispersal of marine sedimentary bacteria via the ocean, and (ii) selection of the subseafloor sedimentary community from within the community present in shallow sediment.
Project description:To assess the influence of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) tag choice on estimates of microbial diversity and/or community composition in seawater and marine sediment, we examined bacterial diversity and community composition from a site in the Central North Atlantic and a site in the Equatorial Pacific. For each site, we analyzed samples from four zones in the water column, a seafloor sediment sample, and two subseafloor sediment horizons (with stratigraphic ages of 1.5 and 5.5 million years old). We amplified both the V4 and V6 hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA gene and clustered the sequences into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of 97% similarity to analyze for diversity and community composition. OTU richness is much higher with the V6 tag than with the V4 tag, and subsequently OTU-level community composition is quite different between the two tags. Vertical patterns of relative diversity are broadly the same for both tags, with maximum taxonomic richness in seafloor sediment and lowest richness in subseafloor sediment at both geographic locations. Genetic dissimilarity between sample locations is also broadly the same for both tags. Community composition is very similar for both tags at the class level, but very different at the level of 97% similar OTUs. Class-level diversity and community composition of water-column samples are very similar at each water depth between the Atlantic and Pacific. However, sediment communities differ greatly from the Atlantic site to the Pacific site. Finally, for relative patterns of diversity and class-level community composition, deep sequencing and shallow sequencing provide similar results.
Project description:Subseafloor sediment hosts a large, taxonomically rich, and metabolically diverse microbial ecosystem. However, the factors that control microbial diversity in subseafloor sediment have rarely been explored. Here, we show that bacterial richness varies with organic degradation rate and sediment age. At three open-ocean sites (in the Bering Sea and equatorial Pacific) and one continental margin site (Indian Ocean), richness decreases exponentially with increasing sediment depth. The rate of decrease in richness with increasing depth varies from site to site. The vertical succession of predominant terminal electron acceptors correlates with abundance-weighted community composition but does not drive the vertical decrease in richness. Vertical patterns of richness at the open-ocean sites closely match organic degradation rates; both properties are highest near the seafloor and decline together as sediment depth increases. This relationship suggests that (i) total catabolic activity and/or electron donor diversity exerts a primary influence on bacterial richness in marine sediment and (ii) many bacterial taxa that are poorly adapted for subseafloor sedimentary conditions are degraded in the geologically young sediment, where respiration rates are high. Richness consistently takes a few hundred thousand years to decline from near-seafloor values to much lower values in deep anoxic subseafloor sediment, regardless of sedimentation rate, predominant terminal electron acceptor, or oceanographic context.Subseafloor sediment provides a wonderful opportunity to investigate the drivers of microbial diversity in communities that may have been isolated for millions of years. Our paper shows the impact of in situ conditions on bacterial community structure in subseafloor sediment. Specifically, it shows that bacterial richness in subseafloor sediment declines exponentially with sediment age, and in parallel with organic-fueled oxidation rate. This result suggests that subseafloor diversity ultimately depends on electron donor diversity and/or total community respiration. This work studied how and why biological richness changes over time in the extraordinary ecosystem of subseafloor sediment.
Project description:Subseafloor sedimentary environments harbor a remarkable number of microorganisms that constitute anaerobic and aerobic microbial ecosystems beneath the ocean margins and open-ocean gyres, respectively. Microbial biomass and diversity richness generally decrease with increasing sediment depth and burial time. However, there has been a long-standing debate over the contribution and distribution of Archaea in the subseafloor sedimentary biosphere. Here we show the global quantification of archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA genes in 221 sediment core samples obtained from diverse oceanographic settings through scientific ocean drilling using microfluidic digital PCR. We estimated that archaeal cells constitute 37.3% of the total microbial cells (40.0% and 12.8% in the ocean margin and open-ocean sites, respectively), corresponding to 1.1 × 1029 cells on Earth. In addition, the relative abundance of archaeal 16S rRNA genes generally decreased with the depth of water in the overlying sedimentary habitat, suggesting that Archaea may be more sensitive to nutrient quality and quantity supplied from the overlying ocean.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Bacterial communities are essential to the biogeochemical cycle in riverine ecosystems. However, little is presently known about the integrated biogeography of planktonic and sedimentary bacterial communities in large rivers. RESULTS:This study provides the first spatiotemporal pattern of bacterial communities in the Yangtze River, the largest river in Asia with a catchment area of 1,800,000 km2. We find that sedimentary bacteria made larger contributions than planktonic bacteria to the bacterial diversity of the Yangzte River ecosystem with the sediment subgroup providing 98.8% of 38,906 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) observed in 280 samples of synchronous flowing water and sediment at 50 national monitoring stations covering a 4300 km reach. OTUs within the same phylum displayed uniform seasonal variations, and many phyla demonstrated autumn preference throughout the length of the river. Seasonal differences in bacterial communities were statistically significant in water, whereas bacterial communities in both water and sediment were geographically clustered according to five types of landforms: mountain, foothill, basin, foothill-mountain, and plain. Interestingly, the presence of two huge dams resulted in a drastic fall of bacterial taxa in sediment immediately downstream due to severe riverbed scouring. The integrity of the biogeography is satisfactorily interpreted by the combination of neutral and species sorting perspectives in meta-community theory for bacterial communities in flowing water and sediment. CONCLUSIONS:Our study fills a gap in understanding of bacterial communities in one of the world's largest river and highlights the importance of both planktonic and sedimentary communities to the integrity of bacterial biogeographic patterns in a river subject to varying natural and anthropogenic impacts.
Project description: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 coupling of subseafloor microbial life to oceanographic and atmospheric conditions is poorly understood. We examined diagenetic imprints and lipid biomarkers of past subseafloor microbial activity to evaluate its response to glacial-interglacial cycles in a sedimentary section drilled on the Peruvian shelf (Ocean Drilling Program Leg 201, Site 1229). Multiple and distinct layers of diagenetic barite and dolomite, i.e., minerals that typically form at the sulfate-methane transition (SMT), occur at much shallower burial depth than the present SMT around 30 meters below seafloor. These shallow layers co-occur with peaks of (13)C-depleted archaeol, a molecular fossil of anaerobic methane-oxidizing Archaea. Present-day, non-steady state distributions of dissolved sulfate also suggest that the SMT is highly sensitive to variations in organic carbon flux to the surface shelf sediments that may lead to shoaling of the SMT. Reaction-transport modeling substantiates our hypothesis that shallow SMTs occur in response to cyclic sediment deposition with a high organic carbon flux during interglacials and a low organic carbon flux during glacial stages. Long diffusion distances expectedly dampen the response of deeply buried microbial communities to changes in sediment deposition and other oceanographic drivers over relatively short geological time scales, e.g., glacial-interglacial periods. However, our study demonstrates how dynamically sediment biogeochemistry of the Peru Margin has responded to glacial-interglacial change and how these changes are now preserved in the geological record. Such changes in subsurface biogeochemical zonation need to be taken into account to assess the role of the subseafloor biosphere in global element and redox cycling.
Project description:The Mexican region of the Perdido Fold Belt (PFB), in northwestern Gulf of Mexico (GoM), is a geological province with important oil reservoirs that will be subjected to forthcoming oil exploration and extraction activities. To date, little is known about the native microbial communities of this region, and how these change relative to water depth. In this study we assessed the bacterial community structure of surficial sediments by high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene at 11 sites in the PFB, along a water column depth gradient from 20 to 3,700 m, including five shallow (20-600 m) and six deep (2,800-3,700 m) samples. The results indicated that OTUs richness and diversity were higher for shallow sites (OTUs = 2,888.2 ± 567.88; H' = 9.6 ± 0.85) than for deep sites (OTUs = 1,884.7 ± 464.2; H' = 7.74 ± 1.02). Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordination revealed that shallow microbial communities grouped separately from deep samples. Additionally, the shallow sites plotted further from each other on the NMDS whereas samples from the deeper sites (abyssal plains) plotted much more closely to each other. These differences were related to depth, redox potential, sulfur concentration, and grain size (lime and clay), based on the environmental variables fitted with the axis of the NMDS ordination. In addition, differential abundance analysis identified 147 OTUs with significant fold changes among the zones (107 from shallow and 40 from deep sites), which constituted 10 to 40% of the total relative abundances of the microbial communities. The most abundant OTUs with significant fold changes in shallow samples corresponded to Kordiimonadales, Rhodospirillales, Desulfobacterales (Desulfococcus), Syntrophobacterales and Nitrospirales (GOUTA 19, BD2-6, LCP-6), whilst Chromatiales, Oceanospirillales (Amphritea, Alcanivorax), Methylococcales, Flavobacteriales, Alteromonadales (Shewanella, ZD0117) and Rhodobacterales were the better represented taxa in deep samples. Several of the OTUs detected in both deep and shallow sites have been previously related to hydrocarbons consumption. Thus, this metabolism seems to be well represented in the studied sites, and it could abate future hydrocarbon contamination in this ecosystem. The results presented herein, along with biological and physicochemical data, constitute an available reference for further monitoring of the bacterial communities in this economically important region in the GoM.
Project description:The global geographic distribution of subseafloor sedimentary microbes and the cause(s) of that distribution are largely unexplored. Here, we show that total microbial cell abundance in subseafloor sediment varies between sites by ca. five orders of magnitude. This variation is strongly correlated with mean sedimentation rate and distance from land. Based on these correlations, we estimate global subseafloor sedimentary microbial abundance to be 2.9?10(29) cells [corresponding to 4.1 petagram (Pg) C and ?0.6% of Earth's total living biomass]. This estimate of subseafloor sedimentary microbial abundance is roughly equal to previous estimates of total microbial abundance in seawater and total microbial abundance in soil. It is much lower than previous estimates of subseafloor sedimentary microbial abundance. In consequence, we estimate Earth's total number of microbes and total living biomass to be, respectively, 50-78% and 10-45% lower than previous estimates.
Project description:A remarkable number of microbial cells have been enumerated within subseafloor sediments, suggesting a biological impact on geochemical processes in the subseafloor habitat. However, the metabolically active fraction of these populations is largely uncharacterized. In this study, an RNA-based molecular approach was used to determine the diversity and community structure of metabolically active bacterial populations in the upper sedimentary formation of the Nankai Trough seismogenic zone. Samples used in this study were collected from the slope apron sediment overlying the accretionary prism at Site C0004 during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 316. The sediments represented microbial habitats above, within, and below the sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ), which was observed approximately 20?m below the seafloor (mbsf). Small subunit ribosomal RNA were extracted, quantified, amplified, and sequenced using high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing, indicating the occurrence of metabolically active bacterial populations to a depth of 57?mbsf. Transcript abundance and bacterial diversity decreased with increasing depth. The two communities below the SMTZ were similar at the phylum level, however only a 24% overlap was observed at the genus level. Active bacterial community composition was not confined to geochemically predicted redox stratification despite the deepest sample being more than 50?m below the oxic/anoxic interface. Genus-level classification suggested that the metabolically active subseafloor bacterial populations had similarities to previously cultured organisms. This allowed predictions of physiological potential, expanding understanding of the subseafloor microbial ecosystem. Unique community structures suggest very diverse active populations compared to previous DNA-based diversity estimates, providing more support for enhancing community characterizations using more advanced sequencing techniques.
Project description:Pockmarks are crater-like depression on the seafloor associated with hydrocarbon ascent through muddy sediments in continental shelves around the world. In this study, we examine the diversity and distribution of benthic microbial communities at shallow-water pockmarks adjacent to the Middle Adriatic Ridge. We integrate microbial diversity data with characterization of local hydrocarbons concentrations and sediment geochemistry. Our results suggest these pockmarks are enriched in sedimentary hydrocarbons, and host a microbial community dominated by Bacteria, even in deeper sediment layers. Pockmark sediments showed higher prokaryotic abundance and biomass than surrounding sediments, potentially due to the increased availability of organic matter and higher concentrations of hydrocarbons linked to pockmark activity. Prokaryotic diversity analyses showed that the microbial communities of these shallow-water pockmarks are unique, and comprised phylotypes associated with the cycling of sulfur and nitrate compounds, as well as numerous know hydrocarbon degraders. Altogether, this study suggests that shallow-water pockmark habitats enhance the diversity of the benthic prokaryotic biosphere by providing specialized environmental niches.