Project description:The role of microorganisms in the cycling of sedimentary organic carbon is a crucial one. To better understand relationships between molecular composition of a potentially bioavailable fraction of organic matter and microbial populations, bacterial and archaeal communities were characterized using pyrosequencing-based 16S rRNA gene analysis in surface (top 30 cm) and subsurface/deeper sediments (30-530 cm) of the Helgoland mud area, North Sea. Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) was used to characterize a potentially bioavailable organic matter fraction (hot-water extractable organic matter, WE-OM). Algal polymer-associated microbial populations such as members of the Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Verrucomicrobia were dominant in surface sediments while members of the Chloroflexi (Dehalococcoidales and candidate order GIF9) and Miscellaneous Crenarchaeota Groups (MCG), both of which are linked to degradation of more recalcitrant, aromatic compounds and detrital proteins, were dominant in subsurface sediments. Microbial populations dominant in subsurface sediments (Chloroflexi, members of MCG, and Thermoplasmata) showed strong correlations to total organic carbon (TOC) content. Changes of WE-OM with sediment depth reveal molecular transformations from oxygen-rich [high oxygen to carbon (O/C), low hydrogen to carbon (H/C) ratios] aromatic compounds and highly unsaturated compounds toward compounds with lower O/C and higher H/C ratios. The observed molecular changes were most pronounced in organic compounds containing only CHO atoms. Our data thus, highlights classes of sedimentary organic compounds that may serve as microbial energy sources in methanic marine subsurface environments.
Project description:Sequencing surveys of microbial communities in marine subsurface sediments have focused on organic-rich, continental margins; the database for organic-lean deep-sea sediments from mid-ocean regions is underdeveloped. The archaeal community in subsurface sediments of ODP Site 1225 in the eastern equatorial Pacific (3760 m water depth; 1.1 and 7.8 m sediment depth) was analyzed by PCR, cloning and sequencing, and by denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA genes. Three uncultured archaeal lineages with different depth distributions were found: Marine Group I (MG-I) within the Thaumarchaeota, its sister lineage Marine Benthic Group A (MBG-A), the phylum-level archaeal lineage Marine Benthic Group B (also known as Deep-Sea Archaeal Group or Lokiarchaeota), and the Deep-Sea Euryarchaeotal Group 3. The MG-I phylotypes included representatives of sediment clusters that are distinct from the pelagic members of this phylum. On the scale from fully oxidized, extremely organic carbon-depleted sediments (for example, those the South Pacific Gyre) to fully reduced, organic carbon-rich marine subsurface sediments (such as those of the Peru Margin), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1225 falls into the non-extreme organic carbon-lean category, and harbors archaeal communities from both ends of the spectrum.