Niche partitioning of diverse sulfur-oxidizing bacteria at hydrothermal vents.
ABSTRACT: At deep-sea hydrothermal vents, primary production is carried out by chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, with the oxidation of reduced sulfur compounds being a major driver for microbial carbon fixation. Dense and highly diverse assemblies of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) are observed, yet the principles of niche differentiation between the different SOB across geochemical gradients remain poorly understood. In this study niche differentiation of the key SOB was addressed by extensive sampling of active sulfidic vents at six different hydrothermal venting sites in the Manus Basin, off Papua New Guinea. We subjected 33 diffuse fluid and water column samples and 23 samples from surfaces of chimneys, rocks and fauna to a combined analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences, metagenomes and real-time in situ measured geochemical parameters. We found Sulfurovum Epsilonproteobacteria mainly attached to surfaces exposed to diffuse venting, while the SUP05-clade dominated the bacterioplankton in highly diluted mixtures of vent fluids and seawater. We propose that the high diversity within Sulfurimonas- and Sulfurovum-related Epsilonproteobacteria observed in this study derives from the high variation of environmental parameters such as oxygen and sulfide concentrations across small spatial and temporal scales.
Project description:Microorganisms throughout the dark ocean use reduced sulfur compounds for chemolithoautotrophy. In many deep-sea hydrothermal vents, sulfide oxidation is quantitatively the most important chemical energy source for microbial metabolism both at and beneath the seafloor. In this study, the presence and activity of vent endemic Epsilonproteobacteria was examined in six low-temperature diffuse vents over a range of geochemical gradients from Axial Seamount, a deep-sea volcano in the Northeast Pacific. PCR primers were developed and applied to target the sulfur oxidation soxB gene of Epsilonproteobacteria. soxB genes belonging to the genera Sulfurimonas and Sulfurovum are both present and expressed at most diffuse vent sites, but not in background seawater. Although Sulfurovum-like soxB genes were detected in all fluid samples, the RNA profiles were nearly identical among the vents and suggest that Sulfurimonas-like species are the primary Epsilonproteobacteria responsible for actively oxidizing sulfur via the Sox pathway at each vent. Community patterns of subseafloor Epsilonproteobacteria 16S rRNA genes were best matched to methane concentrations in vent fluids, as well as individual vent locations, indicating that both geochemistry and geographical isolation play a role in structuring subseafloor microbial populations. The data show that in the subseafloor at Axial Seamount, Epsilonproteobacteria are expressing the soxB gene and that microbial patterns in community distribution are linked to both vent location and chemistry.
Project description:Despite years of research into microbial activity at diffuse flow hydrothermal vents, the extent of microbial niche diversity in these settings is not known. To better understand the relationship between microbial activity and the associated physical and geochemical conditions, we obtained co-registered metatranscriptomic and geochemical data from a variety of different fluid regimes within the ASHES vent field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Microbial activity in the majority of the cool and warm fluids sampled was dominated by a population of <i>Gammaproteobacteria</i> (likely sulfur oxidizers) that appear to thrive in a variety of chemically distinct fluids. Only the warmest, most hydrothermally-influenced flows were dominated by active populations of canonically vent-endemic <i>Epsilonproteobacteria</i>. These data suggest that the <i>Gammaproteobacteria</i> collected during this study may be generalists, capable of thriving over a broader range of geochemical conditions than the <i>Epsilonproteobacteria</i>. Notably, the apparent metabolic activity of the <i>Gammaproteobacteria</i>-particularly carbon fixation-in the seawater found between discrete fluid flows (the intra-field water) suggests that this area within the Axial caldera is a highly productive, and previously overlooked, habitat. By extension, our findings suggest that analogous, diffuse flow fields may be similarly productive and thus constitute a very important and underappreciated aspect of deep-sea biogeochemical cycling that is occurring at the global scale.
Project description:In order to fully understand the cycling of elements in hydrothermal systems it is critical to understand intra-field variations in geochemical and microbiological processes in both focused, high-temperature and diffuse, low-temperature areas. To reveal important causes and effects of this variation, we performed an extensive chemical and microbiological characterization of a low-temperature venting area in the Loki's Castle Vent Field (LCVF). This area, located at the flank of the large sulfide mound, is characterized by numerous chimney-like barite (BaSO4) structures (? 1 m high) covered with white cotton-like microbial mats. Results from geochemical analyses, microscopy (FISH, SEM), 16S rRNA gene amplicon-sequencing and metatranscriptomics were compared to results from previous analyses of biofilms growing on black smoker chimneys at LCVF. Based on our results, we constructed a conceptual model involving the geochemistry and microbiology in the LCVF. The model suggests that CH4 and H2S are important electron donors for microorganisms in both high-temperature and low-temperature areas, whereas the utilization of H2 seems restricted to high-temperature areas. This further implies that sub-seafloor processes can affect energy-landscapes, elemental cycling, and the metabolic activity of primary producers on the seafloor. In the cotton-like microbial mats on top of the active barite chimneys, a unique network of single cells of Epsilonproteobacteria interconnected by threads of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) was seen, differing significantly from the long filamentous Sulfurovum filaments observed in biofilms on the black smokers. This network also induced nucleation of barite crystals and is suggested to play an essential role in the formation of the microbial mats and the chimneys. Furthermore, it illustrates variations in how different genera of Epsilonproteobacteria colonize and position cells in different vent fluid mixing zones within a vent field. This may be related to niche-specific physical characteristics. Altogether, the model provides a reference for future studies and illustrates the importance of systematic comparative studies of spatially closely connected niches in order to fully understand the geomicrobiology of hydrothermal systems.
Project description:In this study, we integrated geochemical measurements, microbial diversity surveys and physiological characterization of laboratory strains to investigate substrate-attached filamentous microbial biofilms at Tor Caldara, a shallow-water gas vent in the Tyrrhenian Sea. At this site, the venting gases are mainly composed of CO2 and H2S and the temperature at the emissions is the same as that of the surrounding water. To investigate the composition of the total and active fraction of the Tor Caldara biofilm communities, we collected established and newly formed filaments and we sequenced the 16S rRNA genes (DNA) and the 16S rRNA transcripts (cDNA). Chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizing members of the Gammaproteobacteria (predominantly Thiotrichales) dominate the active fraction of the established microbial filaments, while Epsilonproteobacteria (predominantly Sulfurovum spp.) are more prevalent in the young filaments. This indicates a succession of the two communities, possibly in response to age, sulfide and oxygen concentrations. Growth experiments with representative laboratory strains in sulfide gradient medium revealed that Sulfurovum riftiae (Epsilonproteobacteria) grew closer to the sulfide source than Thiomicrospira sp. (Gammaproteobacteria, Thiotrichales). Overall, our findings show that sulfur-oxidizing Epsilonproteobacteria are the dominant pioneer colonizers of the Tor Caldara biofilm communities and that Gammaproteobacteria become prevalent once the community is established. This succession pattern appears to be driven - among other factors - by the adaptation of Epsilon- and Gammaproteobacteria to different sulfide concentrations.
Project description:There are still notable gaps regarding the detailed distribution of microorganisms between and within insular habitats such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents. This study investigates the community composition of black smoker vent microorganisms in the Southern Hemisphere, and changes thereof along a spatial and chemical gradient ranging from the vent plume to surrounding waters. We sampled two hydrothermal vent fields, one at the South West Indian Ridge (SWIR), the other at the East Scotia Ridge (ESR). Samples were collected across vent fields at varying vertical distances from the origin of the plumes. The microbial data were sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq platform for the 16SrRNA gene. A substantial amount of vent-specific putative chemosynthetic microorganisms were found, particularly in samples from focused hydrothermal venting. Common vent-specific organisms from both vent fields were the genera Arcobacter, Caminibacter and Sulfurimonas from the Epsilonproteobacteria and the SUP05 group from the Gammaproteobacteria. There were no major differences in microbial composition between SWIR and ESR for focused plume samples. However, within the ESR the diffuse flow and focused samples differed significantly in microbial community composition and relative abundance. For Epsilonproteobacteria, we found evidence of niche-specificity to hydrothermal vent environments. This taxon decreased in abundance by three orders of magnitude from the vent orifice to background water. Epsilonproteobacteria distribution followed a distance-decay relationship as vent-effluents mixed with the surrounding seawater. This study demonstrates strong habitat affinity of vent microorganisms on a metre scale with distinct environmental selection.
Project description:Chemosynthetic Epsilonproteobacteria from deep-sea hydrothermal vents colonize substrates exposed to steep thermal and redox gradients. In many bacteria, substrate attachment, biofilm formation, expression of virulence genes and host colonization are partly controlled via a cell density-dependent mechanism involving signal molecules, known as quorum sensing. Within the Epsilonproteobacteria, quorum sensing has been investigated only in human pathogens that use the luxS/autoinducer-2 (AI-2) mechanism to control the expression of some of these functions. In this study we showed that luxS is conserved in Epsilonproteobacteria and that pathogenic and mesophilic members of this class inherited this gene from a thermophilic ancestor. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the luxS gene is expressed--and a quorum-sensing signal is produced--during growth of Sulfurovum lithotrophicum and Caminibacter mediatlanticus, two Epsilonproteobacteria from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Finally, we detected luxS transcripts in Epsilonproteobacteria-dominated biofilm communities collected from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Taken together, our findings indicate that the epsiloproteobacterial lineage of the LuxS enzyme originated in high-temperature geothermal environments and that, in vent Epsilonproteobacteria, luxS expression is linked to the production of AI-2 signals, which are likely produced in situ at deep-sea vents. We conclude that the luxS gene is part of the ancestral epsilonproteobacterial genome and represents an evolutionary link that connects thermophiles to human pathogens.
Project description:Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) is a typical oceanic ultraslow spreading ridge with intensive hydrothermal activities. The microbial communities in hydrothermal fields including primary producers to support the entire ecosystem by utilizing geochemical energy generated from rock-seawater interactions. Here we have examined the microbial community structures on four hydrothermal vents from SWIR, representing distinct characteristics in terms of temperature, pH and metal compositions, by using Illumina sequencing of the 16S small subunit ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes, to correlate bacterial and archaeal populations with the nature of the vents influenced by ultraslow spreading features. Epsilon-, Gamma-, Alpha-, and Deltaproteobacteria and members of the phylum Bacteroidetes and Planctomycetes, as well as Thaumarchaeota, Woesearchaeota, and Euryarchaeota were dominant in all the samples. Both bacterial and archaeal community structures showed distinguished patterns compared to those in the fast-spreading East Pacific Ridge or the slow-spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge as previously reported. Furthermore, within SWIR, the microbial communities are highly correlated with the local temperatures. For example, the sulfur-oxidizing bacteria were dominant within bacteria from low-temperature vents, but were not represented as the dominating group recovered from high temperature (over 300°C) venting chimneys in SWIR. Meanwhile, Thaumarchaeota, the ammonium oxidizing archaea, only showed high relative abundance of amplicons in the vents with high-temperature in SWIR. These findings provide insights on the microbial community in ultraslow spreading hydrothermal fields, and therefore assist us in the understanding of geochemical cycling therein.
Project description:Microbial processes within the subseafloor can be examined during the ephemeral and uncommonly observed phenomena known as snowblower venting. Snowblowers are characterized by the large quantity of white floc that is expelled from the seafloor following mid-ocean ridge eruptions. During these eruptions, rapidly cooling lava entrains seawater and hydrothermal fluids enriched in geochemical reactants, creating a natural bioreactor that supports a subseafloor microbial "bloom." Previous studies hypothesized that the eruption-associated floc was made by sulfide-oxidizing bacteria; however, the microbes involved were never identified. Here we present the first molecular analysis combined with microscopy of microbial communities in snowblower vents from samples collected shortly after the 2011 eruption at Axial Seamount, an active volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. We obtained fluid samples and white flocculent material from active snowblower vents as well as orange flocculent material found on top of newly formed lava flows. Both flocculent types revealed diverse cell types and particulates when examined by phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Distinct archaeal and bacterial communities were detected in each sample type through Illumina tag sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and through sequencing of the sulfide oxidation gene, soxB. In fluids and white floc, the dominant bacteria were sulfur-oxidizing Epsilonproteobacteria and the dominant archaea were thermophilic Methanococcales. In contrast, the dominant organisms in the orange floc were Gammaproteobacteria and Thaumarchaeota Marine Group I. In all samples, bacteria greatly outnumbered archaea. The presence of anaerobic methanogens and microaerobic Epsilonproteobacteria in snowblower communities provides evidence that these blooms are seeded by subseafloor microbes, rather than from microbes in bottom seawater. These eruptive events thus provide a unique opportunity to observe subseafloor microbial communities.
Project description:We systematically studied free-living bacterial diversity within aggregations of the vestimentiferan tubeworm Ridgeia piscesae sampled from two contrasting flow regimes (High Flow and Low Flow) in the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents Marine Protected Area (MPA) on the Juan de Fuca Ridge (Northeast Pacific). Eight samples of particulate detritus were recovered from paired tubeworm grabs from four vent sites. Most sequences (454 tag and Sanger methods) were affiliated to the Epsilonproteobacteria, and the sulfur-oxidizing genus Sulfurovum was dominant in all samples. Gammaproteobacteria were also detected, mainly in Low Flow sequence libraries, and were affiliated with known methanotrophs and decomposers. The cooccurrence of sulfur reducers from the Deltaproteobacteria and the Epsilonproteobacteria suggests internal sulfur cycling within these habitats. Other phyla detected included Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, and Deinococcus-Thermus. Statistically significant relationships between sequence library composition and habitat type suggest a predictable pattern for High Flow and Low Flow environments. Most sequences significantly more represented in High Flow libraries were related to sulfur and hydrogen oxidizers, while mainly heterotrophic groups were more represented in Low Flow libraries. Differences in temperature, available energy for metabolism, and stability between High Flow and Low Flow habitats potentially explain their distinct bacterial communities.
Project description:Hydrothermal chimneys are a globally dispersed habitat on the seafloor associated with mid-ocean ridge (MOR) spreading centers. Active, hot, venting sulfide structures from MORs have been examined for microbial diversity and ecology since their discovery in the mid-1970s, and recent work has also begun to explore the microbiology of inactive sulfides--structures that persist for decades to millennia and form moderate to massive deposits at and below the seafloor. Here we used tag pyrosequencing of the V6 region of the 16S rRNA and full-length 16S rRNA sequencing on inactive hydrothermal sulfide chimney samples from 9°N on the East Pacific Rise to learn their bacterial composition, metabolic potential, and succession from venting to nonventing (inactive) regimes. Alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gammaproteobacteria and members of the phylum Bacteroidetes dominate all inactive sulfides. Greater than 26% of the V6 tags obtained are closely related to lineages involved in sulfur, nitrogen, iron, and methane cycling. Epsilonproteobacteria represent <4% of the V6 tags recovered from inactive sulfides and 15% of the full-length clones, despite their high abundance in active chimneys. Members of the phylum Aquificae, which are common in active vents, were absent from both the V6 tags and full-length 16S rRNA data sets. In both analyses, the proportions of alphaproteobacteria, betaproteobacteria, and members of the phylum Bacteroidetes were greater than those found on active hydrothermal sulfides. These shifts in bacterial population structure on inactive chimneys reveal ecological succession following cessation of venting and also imply a potential shift in microbial activity and metabolic guilds on hydrothermal sulfides, the dominant biome that results from seafloor venting.