Project description:Warm fluids emanating from hydrothermal vents can be used as windows into the rocky subseafloor habitat and its resident microbial community. Two new vent systems on the Mid-Cayman Rise each exhibits novel geologic settings and distinctively hydrogen-rich vent fluid compositions. We have determined and compared the chemistry, potential energy yielding reactions, abundance, community composition, diversity, and function of microbes in venting fluids from both sites: Piccard, the world's deepest vent site, hosted in mafic rocks; and Von Damm, an adjacent, ultramafic-influenced system. Von Damm hosted a wider diversity of lineages and metabolisms in comparison to Piccard, consistent with thermodynamic models that predict more numerous energy sources at ultramafic systems. There was little overlap in the phylotypes found at each site, although similar and dominant hydrogen-utilizing genera were present at both. Despite the differences in community structure, depth, geology, and fluid chemistry, energetic modelling and metagenomic analysis indicate near functional equivalence between Von Damm and Piccard, likely driven by the high hydrogen concentrations and elevated temperatures at both sites. Results are compared with hydrothermal sites worldwide to provide a global perspective on the distinctiveness of these newly discovered sites and the interplay among rocks, fluid composition and life in the subseafloor.
Project description:Thirty years after the first discovery of high-temperature submarine venting, the vast majority of the global mid-ocean ridge remains unexplored for hydrothermal activity. Of particular interest are the world's ultraslow spreading ridges that were the last to be demonstrated to host high-temperature venting but may host systems particularly relevant to prebiotic chemistry and the origins of life. Here we report evidence for previously unknown, diverse, and very deep hydrothermal vents along the approximately 110 km long, ultraslow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise (MCR). Our data indicate that the MCR hosts at least three discrete hydrothermal sites, each representing a different type of water-rock interaction, including both mafic and ultramafic systems and, at approximately 5,000 m, the deepest known hydrothermal vent. Although submarine hydrothermal circulation, in which seawater percolates through and reacts with host lithologies, occurs on all mid-ocean ridges, the diversity of vent types identified here and their relative geographic isolation make the MCR unique in the oceans. These new sites offer prospects for an expanded range of vent-fluid compositions, varieties of abiotic organic chemical synthesis and extremophile microorganisms, and unparalleled faunal biodiversity--all in close proximity.
Project description:The structure and function of microbial communities inhabiting the subseafloor near hydrothermal systems are influenced by fluid geochemistry, geologic setting and fluid flux between vent sites, as well as biological interactions. Here, we used genome-resolved metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to examine patterns of gene abundance and expression and assess potential niche differentiation in microbial communities in venting fluids from hydrothermal vent sites at the Mid-Cayman Rise. We observed similar patterns in gene and transcript abundance between two geochemically distinct vent fields at the community level but found that each vent site harbours a distinct microbial community with differing transcript abundances for individual microbial populations. Through an analysis of metabolic pathways in 64 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), we show that MAG transcript abundance can be tied to differences in metabolic pathways and to potential metabolic interactions between microbial populations, allowing for niche-partitioning and divergence in both population distribution and activity. Our results illustrate that most microbial populations have a restricted distribution within the seafloor, and that the activity of those microbial populations is tied to both genome content and abiotic factors.
Project description:We report the genome sequence of Thermococcus superprofundus strain CDGS(T), a new piezophilic and hyperthermophilic member of the order Thermococcales isolated from the world's deepest hydrothermal vents, at the Mid-Cayman Rise. The genome is consistent with a heterotrophic, anaerobic, and piezophilic lifestyle.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The microbial endosymbionts of two species of vestimentiferan tubeworms (Escarpia sp. and Lamellibrachia sp.2) collected from an area of low-temperature hydrothermal diffuse vent flow at the Mid-Cayman Rise (MCR) in the Caribbean Sea were characterized using microscopy, phylogenetic analyses, and a metagenomic approach. RESULTS:Bacteria, with a typical Gram negative cell envelope contained within membrane-bound vacuoles, were observed within the trophosome of both tubeworm species. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene and ITS region suggested MCR individuals harbored highly similar endosymbionts that were >?98% identical, with the exception of two symbionts that showed a 60 bp insertion within the ITS region. All sequences from MCR endosymbionts formed a separate well-supported clade that diverged from those of symbionts of seep and vent vestimentiferans from the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Mediterranean Sea. The metagenomes of the symbionts of two specimens of each tubeworm species were sequenced, and two distinct Gammaproteobacteria metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of more than 4 Mbp assembled. An Average Nucleotide Identity (ANI) of 86.5% between these MAGs, together with distinct 16S rRNA gene and ITS sequences, indicate the presence of multiple endosymbiont phylotypes at the MCR, with one MAG shared between one Escarpia and two Lamellibrachia individuals, indicating these endosymbionts are not specific to either host species. Genes for sulfur and hydrogen oxidation, nitrate reduction (assimilatory and dissimilatory), glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, peptide, sugar, and lipid transporters, and both rTCA and CBB carbon fixation cycles were detected in the MAGs, highlighting key and shared functions with symbiont metagenomes of the vestimentiferans Riftia, Tevnia, and Ridgeia from the Pacific. The potential for a second hydrogen oxidation pathway (via a bidirectional hydrogenase), formate dehydrogenase, a catalase, and several additional peptide transporters were found exclusively in the MCR endosymbiont MAGs. CONCLUSIONS:The present study adds new evidence that tubeworm endosymbionts can potentially switch from autotrophic to heterotrophic metabolism, or may be mixotrophic, presumably while free-living, and also suggests their versatile metabolic potential may enable both the host and symbionts to exploit a wide range of environmental conditions. Together, the marked gene content and sequence dissimilarity at the rRNA operon and whole genome level between vent and seep symbionts suggest these newly described endosymbionts from the MCR belong to a novel tubeworm endosymbiont genera, introduced as Candidatus Vondammii.