Sediment Microbial Communities Influenced by Cool Hydrothermal Fluid Migration.
ABSTRACT: Cool hydrothermal systems (CHSs) are prevalent across the seafloor and discharge fluid volumes that rival oceanic input from rivers, yet the microbial ecology of these systems are poorly constrained. The Dorado Outcrop on the ridge flank of the Cocos Plate in the northeastern tropical Pacific Ocean is the first confirmed CHS, discharging minimally altered <15°C fluid from the shallow lithosphere through diffuse venting and seepage. In this paper, we characterize the resident sediment microbial communities influenced by cool hydrothermal advection, which is evident from nitrate and oxygen concentrations. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that Thaumarchaea, Proteobacteria, and Planctomycetes were the most abundant phyla in all sediments across the system regardless of influence from seepage. Members of the Thaumarchaeota (Marine Group I), Alphaproteobacteria (Rhodospirillales), Nitrospirae, Nitrospina, Acidobacteria, and Gemmatimonadetes were enriched in the sediments influenced by CHS advection. Of the various geochemical parameters investigated, nitrate concentrations correlated best with microbial community structure, indicating structuring based on seepage of nitrate-rich fluids. A comparison of microbial communities from hydrothermal sediments, seafloor basalts, and local seawater at Dorado Outcrop showed differences that highlight the distinct niche space in CHS. Sediment microbial communities from Dorado Outcrop differ from those at previously characterized, warmer CHS sediment, but are similar to deep-sea sediment habitats with surficial ferromanganese nodules, such as the Clarion Clipperton Zone. We conclude that cool hydrothermal venting at seafloor outcrops can alter the local sedimentary oxidation-reduction pathways, which in turn influences the microbial communities within the fluid discharge affected sediment.
Project description:Oil and gas percolate profusely through the sediments of the Gulf of Mexico, leading to numerous seeps at the seafloor, where complex microbial, and sometimes animal communities flourish. Sediments from three areas (two cold seeps with contrasting hydrocarbon composition and a site outside any area of active seepage) of the Gulf of Mexico were investigated and compared. Consistent with the existence of a seep microbiome, a distinct microbial community was observed in seep areas compared to sediment from outside areas of active seepage. The microbial community from sediments without any influence from hydrocarbon seepage was characterized by Planctomycetes and the metabolic potential was consistent with detrital marine snow degradation. By contrast, in seep samples with methane as the principal hydrocarbon, methane oxidation by abundant members of ANME-1 was likely the predominant process. Seep samples characterized by fluids containing both methane and complex hydrocarbons, were characterized by abundant Chloroflexi (Anaerolinaceae) and deltaproteobacterial lineages and exhibited potential for complex hydrocarbon degradation. These different metabolic capacities suggested that microorganisms in cold seeps can potentially rely on other processes beyond methane oxidation and that the hydrocarbon composition of the seep fluids may be a critical factor structuring the seafloor microbial community composition and function.
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:Most seafloor hydrothermal circulation occurs far from the magmatic influence of mid-ocean ridges, driving large flows of water, heat and solutes through volcanic rock outcrops on ridge flanks. Here we create three-dimensional simulations of ridge-flank hydrothermal circulation, flowing between and through seamounts, to determine what controls hydrogeological sustainability, flow rate and preferred flow direction in these systems. We find that sustaining flow between outcrops that penetrate less-permeable sediment depends on a contrast in transmittance (the product of outcrop permeability and the area of outcrop exposure) between recharging and discharging sites, with discharge favoured through less-transmissive outcrops. Many simulations include local discharge through outcrops at the recharge end of an outcrop-to-outcrop system. Both of these characteristics are observed in the field. In addition, smaller discharging outcrops sustain higher flow rates than larger outcrops, which may help to explain how so much lithospheric heat is extracted globally by this process.
Project description:The seafloor sediments of Spathi Bay, Milos Island, Greece, are part of the largest arsenic-CO2-rich shallow submarine hydrothermal ecosystem on Earth. Here, white and brown deposits cap chemically distinct sediments with varying hydrothermal influence. All sediments contain abundant genes for autotrophic carbon fixation used in the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) and reverse tricaboxylic acid (rTCA) cycles. Both forms of RuBisCO, together with ATP citrate lyase genes in the rTCA cycle, increase with distance from the active hydrothermal centres and decrease with sediment depth. Clustering of RuBisCO Form II with a highly prevalent Zetaproteobacteria 16S rRNA gene density infers that iron-oxidizing bacteria contribute significantly to the sediment CBB cycle gene content. Three clusters form from different microbial guilds, each one encompassing one gene involved in CO2 fixation, aside from sulfate reduction. Our study suggests that the microbially mediated CBB cycle drives carbon fixation in the Spathi Bay sediments that are characterized by diffuse hydrothermal activity, high CO2, As emissions and chemically reduced fluids. This study highlights the breadth of conditions influencing the biogeochemistry in shallow CO2-rich hydrothermal systems and the importance of coupling highly specific process indicators to elucidate the complexity of carbon cycling in these ecosystems.
Project description:Areas of exposed basalt along mid-ocean ridges and at seafloor outcrops serve as conduits of fluid flux into and out of a subsurface ocean, and microbe-mineral interactions can influence alteration reactions at the rock-water interface. Located on the eastern flank of the East Pacific Rise, Dorado Outcrop is a site of low-temperature (<20°C) hydrothermal venting and represents a new end-member in the current survey of seafloor basalt biomes. Consistent with prior studies, a survey of 16S rRNA gene sequence diversity using universal primers targeting the V4 hypervariable region revealed much greater richness and diversity on the seafloor rocks than in surrounding seawater. Overall, Gamma-, Alpha-, and Deltaproteobacteria, and Thaumarchaeota dominated the sequenced communities, together making up over half of the observed diversity, though bacterial sequences were more abundant than archaeal in all samples. The most abundant bacterial reads were closely related to the obligate chemolithoautotrophic, sulfur-oxidizing Thioprofundum lithotrophicum, suggesting carbon and sulfur cycling as dominant metabolic pathways in this system. Representatives of Thaumarchaeota were detected in relatively high abundance on the basalts in comparison to bottom water, possibly indicating ammonia oxidation. In comparison to other sequence datasets from globally distributed seafloor basalts, this study reveals many overlapping and cosmopolitan phylogenetic groups and also suggests that substrate age correlates with community structure.
Project description:Microbial community structures in methane seep sediments in the Nankai Trough were analyzed by tag-sequencing analysis for the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene using a newly developed primer set. The dominant members of Archaea were Deep-sea Hydrothermal Vent Euryarchaeotic Group 6 (DHVEG 6), Marine Group I (MGI) and Deep Sea Archaeal Group (DSAG), and those in Bacteria were Alpha-, Gamma-, Delta- and Epsilonproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes and Acidobacteria. Diversity and richness were examined by 8,709 and 7,690 tag-sequences from sediments at 5 and 25 cm below the seafloor (cmbsf), respectively. The estimated diversity and richness in the methane seep sediment are as high as those in soil and deep-sea hydrothermal environments, although the tag-sequences obtained in this study were not sufficient to show whole microbial diversity in this analysis. We also compared the diversity and richness of each taxon/division between the sediments from the two depths, and found that the diversity and richness of some taxa/divisions varied significantly along with the depth.
Project description:Methane seeps are widespread seafloor ecosystems shaped by the emission of gas from seabed reservoirs. The microorganisms inhabiting methane seeps transform the chemical energy in methane to products that sustain rich benthic communities around the gas leaks. Despite the biogeochemical relevance of microbial methane removal at seeps, the global diversity and dispersion of seep microbiota remain unknown. Here we determined the microbial diversity and community structure of 23 globally distributed methane seeps and compared these to the microbial communities of 54 other seafloor ecosystems, including sulfate-methane transition zones, hydrothermal vents, coastal sediments, and deep-sea surface and subsurface sediments. We found that methane seep communities show moderate levels of microbial richness compared with other seafloor ecosystems and harbor distinct bacterial and archaeal taxa with cosmopolitan distribution and key biogeochemical functions. The high relative sequence abundance of ANME (anaerobic methanotrophic archaea), as well as aerobic Methylococcales, sulfate-reducing Desulfobacterales, and sulfide-oxidizing Thiotrichales, matches the most favorable microbial metabolisms at methane seeps in terms of substrate supply and distinguishes the seep microbiome from other seafloor microbiomes. The key functional taxa varied in relative sequence abundance between different seeps due to the environmental factors, sediment depth and seafloor temperature. The degree of endemism of the methane seep microbiome suggests a high local diversification in these heterogeneous but long-lived ecosystems. Our results indicate that the seep microbiome is structured according to metacommunity processes and that few cosmopolitan microbial taxa mediate the bulk of methane oxidation, with global relevance to methane emission in the ocean.
Project description:Submarine mud volcanoes release sediments and gas-rich fluids at the seafloor via deeply-rooted plumbing systems that remain poorly understood. Here the functioning of Venere mud volcano, on the Calabrian accretionary prism in ~1,600?m water depth is investigated, based on multi-parameter hydroacoustic and visual seafloor data obtained using ship-borne methods, ROVs, and AUVs. Two seepage domains are recognized: mud breccia extrusion from a summit, and hydrocarbon venting from peripheral sites, hosting chemosynthetic ecosystems and authigenic carbonates indicative of long-term seepage. Pore fluids in freshly extruded mud breccia (up to 13?°C warmer than background sediments) contained methane concentrations exceeding saturation by 2.7 times and chloride concentrations up to five times lower than ambient seawater. Gas analyses indicate an underlying thermogenic hydrocarbon source with potential admixture of microbial methane during migration along ring faults to the peripheral sites. The gas and pore water analyses point to fluids sourced deep (>3?km) below Venere mud volcano. An upward-branching plumbing system is proposed to account for co-existing mud breccia extrusion and gas seepage via multiple surface vents that influence the distribution of seafloor ecosystems. This model of mud volcanism implies that methane-rich fluids may be released during prolonged phases of moderate activity.
Project description:Sediments within the Okinawa back-arc basin overlay a subsurface hydrothermal network, creating intense temperature gradients with sediment depth and potential limits for microbial diversity. We investigated taxonomic changes across 45?m of recovered core with a temperature gradient of 3°C/m from the dynamic Iheya North Hydrothermal System. The interval transitions sharply from low-temperature marine mud to hydrothermally altered clay at 10 meters below seafloor (mbsf). Here, we present taxonomic results from an analysis of the 16S rRNA gene that support a conceptual model in which common marine subsurface taxa persist into the subsurface, while high temperature adapted archaeal taxa show localized peaks in abundances in the hydrothermal clay horizons. Specifically, the bacterial phylum Chloroflexi accounts for a major proportion of the total microbial community within the upper 10?mbsf, whereas high temperature archaea (Terrestrial Hot Spring Crenarchaeotic Group and methanotrophic archaea) appear in varying local abundances in deeper, hydrothermal clay horizons with higher in situ temperatures (up to 55°C, 15?mbsf). In addition, geochemical evidence suggests that methanotrophy may be occurring in various horizons. There is also relict DNA (i.e., DNA preserved after cell death) that persists in horizons where the conditions suitable for microbial communities have ceased.
Project description:The active seepage of the marine cold seeps could be a critical process for the exchange of energy between the submerged geosphere and the sea floor environment through organic-rich fluids, potentially even affecting surrounding microbial habitats. However, few studies have investigated the associated microbial community changes. In the present study, 16S rRNA genes were pyrosequenced to decipher changes in the microbial communities from the Thuwal seepage point in the Red Sea to nearby marine sediments in the brine pool, normal marine sediments and water, and benthic microbial mats. An unexpected number of reads from unclassified groups were detected in these habitats; however, the ecological functions of these groups remain unresolved. Furthermore, ammonia-oxidizing archaeal community structures were investigated using the ammonia monooxygenase subunit A (amoA) gene. Analysis of amoA showed that planktonic marine habitats, including seeps and marine water, hosted archaeal ammonia oxidizers that differed from those in microbial mats and marine sediments, suggesting modifications of the ammonia oxidizing archaeal (AOA) communities along the environmental gradient from active seepage sites to peripheral areas. Changes in the microbial community structure of AOA in different habitats (water vs. sediment) potentially correlated with changes in salinity and oxygen concentrations. Overall, the present results revealed for the first time unanticipated novel microbial groups and changes in the ammonia-oxidizing archaea in response to environmental gradients near the active seepages of a cold seep.