Deep-sea hydrothermal ecosystems are considered oases of life in oceans. Since the discovery of these ecosystems in the late 1970s, many endemic species of Bacteria, Archaea, and other organisms, such as annelids and crabs, have been described. Considerable knowledge has been acquired about the diversity of (micro)organisms in these ecosystems, but the diversity of fungi has not been studied to date. These organisms are considered key organisms in terrestrial ecosystems because of their ecological functions and especially their ability to degrade organic matter. The lack of knowledge about them in the sea reflects the widely held belief that fungi are terrestrial organisms. The first inventory of such organisms in deep-sea hydrothermal environments was obtained in this study. Fungal diversity was investigated by analyzing the small-subunit rRNA gene sequences amplified by culture-independent PCR using DNA extracts from hydrothermal samples and from a culture collection that was established. Our work revealed an unsuspected diversity of species in three of the five fungal phyla. We found a new branch of Chytridiomycota forming an ancient evolutionary lineage. Many of the species identified are unknown, even at higher taxonomic levels in the Chytridiomycota, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota. This work opens the way to new studies of the diversity, ecology, and physiology of fungi in oceans and might stimulate new prospecting for biomolecules. From an evolutionary point of view, the diversification of fungi in the oceans can no longer be ignored.
The ecosystems of the Red Sea are among the least-explored microbial habitats in the marine environment. In this study, we investigated the microbial communities in the water column overlying the Atlantis II Deep and Discovery Deep in the Red Sea. Taxonomic classification of pyrosequencing reads of the 16S rRNA gene amplicons showed vertical stratification of microbial diversity from the surface water to 1500 m below the surface. Significant differences in both bacterial and archaeal diversity were observed in the upper (2 and 50 m) and deeper layers (200 and 1500 m). There were no obvious differences in community structure at the same depth for the two sampling stations. The bacterial community in the upper layer was dominated by Cyanobacteria whereas the deeper layer harbored a large proportion of Proteobacteria. Among Archaea, Euryarchaeota, especially Halobacteriales, were dominant in the upper layer but diminished drastically in the deeper layer where Desulfurococcales belonging to Crenarchaeota became the dominant group. The results of our study indicate that the microbial communities sampled in this study are different from those identified in water column in other parts of the world. The depth-wise compositional variation in the microbial communities is attributable to their adaptations to the various environments in the Red Sea.
Red Sea; bacteria; archaea; amplicons; pyrosequencing; water column
Nematodes and fungi are both ubiquitous in marine environments, yet few studies have investigated relationships between these two groups. Microbial species share many well-documented interactions with both free-living and parasitic nematode species, and limited data from previous studies have suggested ecological associations between fungi and nematodes in benthic marine habitats. This study aimed to further document the taxonomy and distribution of fungal taxa often co-amplified from nematode specimens. A total of 15 fungal 18S rRNA phylotypes were isolated from nematode specimens representing both deep-sea and shallow water habitats; all fungal isolates displayed high pairwise sequence identities with published data in Genbank (99–100%) and unpublished high-throughput 454 environmental datasets (>95%). BLAST matches indicate marine fungal sequences amplified in this study broadly represent taxa within the phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, and several phylotypes showed robust groupings with known taxa in phylogenetic topologies. In addition, some fungal phylotypes appeared to be present in disparate geographic habitats, suggesting cosmopolitan distributions or closely related species complexes in at least some marine fungi. The present study was only able to isolate fungal DNA from a restricted set of nematode taxa; further work is needed to fully investigate the taxonomic scope and function of nematode-fungal interactions.
The deep sea floor is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. Recent environmental DNA surveys based on clone libraries of rRNA genes confirm this observation and reveal a high diversity of eukaryotes present in deep-sea sediment samples. However, environmental clone-library surveys yield only a modest number of sequences with which to evaluate the diversity of abyssal eukaryotes.
Here, we examined the richness of eukaryotic DNA in deep Arctic and Southern Ocean samples using massively parallel sequencing of the 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) V9 hypervariable region. In very small volumes of sediments, ranging from 0.35 to 0.7 g, we recovered up to 7,499 unique sequences per sample. By clustering sequences having up to 3 differences, we observed from 942 to 1756 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) per sample. Taxonomic analyses of these OTUs showed that DNA of all major groups of eukaryotes is represented at the deep-sea floor. The dinoflagellates, cercozoans, ciliates, and euglenozoans predominate, contributing to 17%, 16%, 10%, and 8% of all assigned OTUs, respectively. Interestingly, many sequences represent photosynthetic taxa or are similar to those reported from the environmental surveys of surface waters. Moreover, each sample contained from 31 to 71 different metazoan OTUs despite the small sample volume collected. This indicates that a significant faction of the eukaryotic DNA sequences likely do not belong to living organisms, but represent either free, extracellular DNA or remains and resting stages of planktonic species.
In view of our study, the deep-sea floor appears as a global DNA repository, which preserves genetic information about organisms living in the sediment, as well as in the water column above it. This information can be used for future monitoring of past and present environmental changes.
Symbiotic microbes play a variety of fundamental roles in the health and habitat ranges of their hosts. While prokaryotes in marine sponges have been broadly characterized, the diversity of sponge-inhabiting fungi has barely been explored using molecular approaches. Fungi are an important component of many marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and they may be an ecologically significant group in sponge-microbe interactions. This study tested the feasibility of using existing fungal primers for molecular analysis of sponge-associated fungal communities. None of the eight selected primer pairs yielded satisfactory results in fungal rRNA gene or internal transcribed spacer (ITS) clone library constructions. However, 3 of 10 denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) primer sets, which were designed to preferentially amplify fungal rRNA gene or ITS regions from terrestrial environmental samples, were successfully amplified from fungal targets in marine sponges. DGGE analysis indicated that fungal communities differ among different sponge species (Suberites zeteki and Mycale armata) and also vary between sponges and seawater. Sequence analysis of DGGE bands identified 23 and 21 fungal species from each of the two sponge species S. zeteki and M. armata, respectively. These species were representatives of 11 taxonomic orders and belonged to the phyla of Ascomycota (seven orders) and Basidiomycota (four orders). Five of these taxonomic orders (Malasseziales, Corticiales, Polyporales, Agaricales, and Dothideomycetes et Chaetothyriomcetes incertae sedis) have now been identified for the first time in marine sponges. Seven and six fungal species from S. zeteki and M. armata, respectively, are potentially new species because of their low sequence identity (≤98%) with their references in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis indicated sponge-derived sequences were clustered into “marine fungus clades” with those from other marine habitats. This is the first report of molecular analysis of fungal communities in marine sponges, adding depth and dimension to our understanding of sponge-associated microbial communities.
Most fungal species from marine environments also live on land. It is not clear whether these fungi reach the sea from terrestrial sources as spores or other propagules, or if there are separate ecotypes that live and reproduce in the sea. The emergence of marine diseases has created an urgency to understand the distribution of these fungi. Aspergillus flavus is ubiquitous in both terrestrial and marine environments. This species is an opportunistic pathogen in many hosts, making it a good model to study the relationship between genetic diversity and specificity of marine fungi. In this study, an intraspecific phylogeny of A. flavus isolates based on Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms (AFLPs) was used to determine if terrestrial and marine isolates form discrete populations, and to determine if phylogeny predicts substratum specificity. Results suggest lack of population structure in A. flavus. All isolates may compose a single population, with no clade particular to marine environments.
AFLP; aspergillosis; Gorgonia; marine fungi; Octocorallia; specificity; sea fans
During the past few years Archaea have been recognized as a widespread and significant component of marine picoplankton assemblages and, more recently, the presence of novel archaeal phylogenetic lineages has been reported in coastal marine benthic environments. We investigated the relative abundance, vertical distribution, phylogenetic composition, and spatial variability of Archaea in deep-sea sediments collected from several stations in the Atlantic Ocean. Quantitative oligonucleotide hybridization experiments indicated that the relative abundance of archaeal 16S rRNA in deep-sea sediments (1500 m deep) ranged from about 2.5 to 8% of the total prokaryotic rRNA. Clone libraries of PCR-amplified archaeal rRNA genes (rDNA) were constructed from 10 depth intervals obtained from sediment cores collected at depths of 1,500, 2,600, and 4,500 m. Phylogenetic analysis of rDNA sequences revealed the presence of a complex archaeal population structure, whose members could be grouped into discrete phylogenetic lineages within the two kingdoms, Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. Comparative denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profile analysis of archaeal 16S rDNA V3 fragments revealed a significant depth-related variability in the composition of the archaeal population.
Deep-sea ecosystems represent the largest biome of the global biosphere, but
knowledge of their biodiversity is still scant. The Mediterranean basin has been
proposed as a hot spot of terrestrial and coastal marine biodiversity but has
been supposed to be impoverished of deep-sea species richness. We summarized all
available information on benthic biodiversity (Prokaryotes, Foraminifera,
Meiofauna, Macrofauna, and Megafauna) in different deep-sea ecosystems of the
Mediterranean Sea (200 to more than 4,000 m depth), including open slopes, deep
basins, canyons, cold seeps, seamounts, deep-water corals and deep-hypersaline
anoxic basins and analyzed overall longitudinal and bathymetric patterns. We
show that in contrast to what was expected from the sharp decrease in organic
carbon fluxes and reduced faunal abundance, the deep-sea biodiversity of both
the eastern and the western basins of the Mediterranean Sea is similarly high.
All of the biodiversity components, except Bacteria and Archaea, displayed a
decreasing pattern with increasing water depth, but to a different extent for
each component. Unlike patterns observed for faunal abundance, highest negative
values of the slopes of the biodiversity patterns were observed for Meiofauna,
followed by Macrofauna and Megafauna. Comparison of the biodiversity associated
with open slopes, deep basins, canyons, and deep-water corals showed that the
deep basins were the least diverse. Rarefaction curves allowed us to estimate
the expected number of species for each benthic component in different
bathymetric ranges. A large fraction of exclusive species was associated with
each specific habitat or ecosystem. Thus, each deep-sea ecosystem contributes
significantly to overall biodiversity. From theoretical extrapolations we
estimate that the overall deep-sea Mediterranean biodiversity (excluding
prokaryotes) reaches approximately 2805 species of which about 66% is
still undiscovered. Among the biotic components investigated (Prokaryotes
excluded), most of the unknown species are within the phylum Nematoda, followed
by Foraminifera, but an important fraction of macrofaunal and megafaunal species
also remains unknown. Data reported here provide new insights into the patterns
of biodiversity in the deep-sea Mediterranean and new clues for future
investigations aimed at identifying the factors controlling and threatening
Microbial eukaryotes (nematodes, protists, fungi, etc., loosely referred to as meiofauna) are ubiquitous in marine sediments and likely play pivotal roles in maintaining ecosystem function. Although the deep-sea benthos represents one of the world’s largest habitats, we lack a firm understanding of the biodiversity and community interactions amongst meiobenthic organisms in this ecosystem. Within this vast environment key questions concerning the historical genetic structure of species remain a mystery, yet have profound implications for our understanding of global biodiversity and how we perceive and mitigate the impact of environmental change and anthropogenic disturbance. Using a metagenetic approach, we present an assessment of microbial eukaryote communities across depth (shallow water to abyssal) and ocean basins (deep-sea Pacific and Atlantic). Within the 12 sites examined, our results suggest that some taxa can maintain eurybathic ranges and cosmopolitan deep-sea distributions, but the majority of species appear to be regionally restricted. For OCTUs reporting wide distributions, there appears to be a taxonomic bias towards a small subset of taxa in most phyla; such bias may be driven by specific life history traits amongst these organisms. In addition, low genetic divergence between geographically disparate deep-sea sites suggests either a shorter coalescence time between deep-sea regions or slower rates of evolution across this vast oceanic ecosystem. While high-throughput studies allow for broad assessment of genetic patterns across microbial eukaryote communities, intragenomic variation in rRNA gene copies and the patchy coverage of reference databases currently present substantial challenges for robust taxonomic interpretations of eukaryotic datasets.
microbial eukaryotes; meiofauna; deep-sea; cosmopolitan species; 18S rRNA; phylogeography; 454 sequencing
Our knowledge about the microorganisms living in the high Arctic Ocean is still rudimentary compared to other oceans mostly because of logistical challenges imposed by its inhospitable climate and the presence of a multi-year ice cap. We have used 18S rRNA gene libraries to study the diversity of microbial eukaryotes in the upper part of the water column (0–170 m depth), the sea ice (0–1.5 m depth) and the overlying snow from samples collected in the vicinity of the North Pole (N88°35′, E015°59) at the very end of the long polar night. We detected very diverse eukaryotes belonging to Alveolata, Fungi, Amoebozoa, Viridiplantae, Metazoa, Rhizaria, Heterokonta, and Telonemia. Different alveolates (dinoflagellates and Marine Alveolate Groups I and II species) were the most abundant and diverse in gene libraries from water and sea ice, representing 80% of the total number of clones and operational taxonomic units. Only contaminants and/or species from continental ecosystems were detected in snow, suggesting wind- and animal- or human-mediated cosmopolitan dispersal of some taxa. By contrast, sea ice and seawater samples harbored a larger and more similar inter-sample protist diversity as compared with snow. The North Pole was found to harbor distinctive eukaryotic communities along the vertical gradient with an unparalleled diversity of core dinoflagellates, largely dominant in libraries from the water column, as compared to other oceanic locations. In contrast, phototrophic organisms typical of Arctic sea ice and plankton, such as diatoms and prasinophytes, were very rare in our samples. This was most likely due to a decrease of their populations after several months of polar night darkness and to the presence of rich populations of diverse grazers. Whereas strict phototrophs were scarce, we identified a variety of likely mixotrophic taxa, which supports the idea that mixotrophy may be important for the survival of diverse protists through the long polar night.
North Pole; arctic; plankton; protist diversity; sea ice; dinoflagellates; alveolates
We analyzed microbial eukaryote diversity in perennially cold arctic marine waters by using 18S rRNA gene clone libraries. Samples were collected during concurrent oceanographic missions to opposite sides of the Arctic Ocean Basin and encompassed five distinct water masses. Two deep water Arctic Ocean sites and the convergence of the Greenland, Norwegian, and Barents Seas were sampled from 28 August to 2 September 2002. An additional sample was obtained from the Beaufort Sea (Canada) in early October 2002. The ribotypes were diverse, with different communities among sites and between the upper mixed layer and just below the halocline. Eukaryotes from the remote Canada Basin contained new phylotypes belonging to the radiolarian orders Acantharea, Polycystinea, and Taxopodida. A novel group within the photosynthetic stramenopiles was also identified. One sample closest to the interior of the Canada Basin yielded only four major taxa, and all but two of the sequences recovered belonged to the polar diatom Fragilariopsis and a radiolarian. Overall, 42% of the sequences were <98% similar to any sequences in GenBank. Moreover, 15% of these were <95% similar to previously recovered sequences, which is indicative of endemic or undersampled taxa in the North Polar environment. The cold, stable Arctic Ocean is a threatened environment, and climate change could result in significant loss of global microbial biodiversity.
The origin and possible antiquity of the spectacularly diverse modern deep-sea fauna has been debated since the beginning of deep-sea research in the mid-nineteenth century. Recent hypotheses, based on biogeographic patterns and molecular clock estimates, support a latest Mesozoic or early Cenozoic date for the origin of key groups of the present deep-sea fauna (echinoids, octopods). This relatively young age is consistent with hypotheses that argue for extensive extinction during Jurassic and Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs) and the mid-Cenozoic cooling of deep-water masses, implying repeated re-colonization by immigration of taxa from shallow-water habitats. Here we report on a well-preserved echinoderm assemblage from deep-sea (1000–1500 m paleodepth) sediments of the NE-Atlantic of Early Cretaceous age (114 Ma). The assemblage is strikingly similar to that of extant bathyal echinoderm communities in composition, including families and genera found exclusively in modern deep-sea habitats. A number of taxa found in the assemblage have no fossil record at shelf depths postdating the assemblage, which precludes the possibility of deep-sea recolonization from shallow habitats following episodic extinction at least for those groups. Our discovery provides the first key fossil evidence that a significant part of the modern deep-sea fauna is considerably older than previously assumed. As a consequence, most major paleoceanographic events had far less impact on the diversity of deep-sea faunas than has been implied. It also suggests that deep-sea biota are more resilient to extinction events than shallow-water forms, and that the unusual deep-sea environment, indeed, provides evolutionary stability which is very rarely punctuated on macroevolutionary time scales.
Shallow-water tropical reefs and the deep sea represent the two most diverse marine environments. Understanding the origin and diversification of this biodiversity is a major quest in ecology and evolution. The most prominent and well-supported explanation, articulated since the first explorations of the deep sea, holds that benthic marine fauna originated in shallow, onshore environments, and diversified into deeper waters. In contrast, evidence that groups of marine organisms originated in the deep sea is limited, and the possibility that deep-water taxa have contributed to the formation of shallow-water communities remains untested with phylogenetic methods. Here we show that stylasterid corals (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa: Stylasteridae)—the second most diverse group of hard corals—originated and diversified extensively in the deep sea, and subsequently invaded shallow waters. Our phylogenetic results show that deep-water stylasterid corals have invaded the shallow-water tropics three times, with one additional invasion of the shallow-water temperate zone. Our results also show that anti-predatory innovations arose in the deep sea, but were not involved in the shallow-water invasions. These findings are the first robust evidence that an important group of tropical shallow-water marine animals evolved from deep-water ancestors.
Nematodes represent the most abundant benthic metazoa in one of the largest habitats on earth, the deep sea. Characterizing major patterns of biodiversity within this dominant group is a critical step towards understanding evolutionary patterns across this vast ecosystem. The present study has aimed to place deep-sea nematode species into a phylogenetic framework, investigate relationships between shallow water and deep-sea taxa, and elucidate phylogeographic patterns amongst the deep-sea fauna.
Molecular data (18 S and 28 S rRNA) confirms a high diversity amongst deep-sea Enoplids. There is no evidence for endemic deep-sea lineages in Maximum Likelihood or Bayesian phylogenies, and Enoplids do not cluster according to depth or geographic location. Tree topologies suggest frequent interchanges between deep-sea and shallow water habitats, as well as a mixture of early radiations and more recently derived lineages amongst deep-sea taxa. This study also provides convincing evidence of cosmopolitan marine species, recovering a subset of Oncholaimid nematodes with identical gene sequences (18 S, 28 S and cox1) at trans-Atlantic sample sites.
The complex clade structures recovered within the Enoplida support a high global species richness for marine nematodes, with phylogeographic patterns suggesting the existence of closely related, globally distributed species complexes in the deep sea. True cosmopolitan species may additionally exist within this group, potentially driven by specific life history traits of Enoplids. Although this investigation aimed to intensively sample nematodes from the order Enoplida, specimens were only identified down to genus (at best) and our sampling regime focused on an infinitesimal small fraction of the deep-sea floor. Future nematode studies should incorporate an extended sample set covering a wide depth range (shelf, bathyal, and abyssal sites), utilize additional genetic loci (e.g. mtDNA) that are informative at the species level, and apply high-throughput sequencing methods to fully assay community diversity. Finally, further molecular studies are needed to determine whether phylogeographic patterns observed in Enoplids are common across other ubiquitous marine groups (e.g. Chromadorida, Monhysterida).
We compared the phylogenetic compositions of marine planktonic archaeal populations in different marine provinces. Samples from eight different environments were collected at two depths (surface and aphotic zone), and 16 genetic libraries of PCR-amplified archaeal 16S rRNA genes were constructed. The libraries were analyzed by using a three-step hierarchical approach. Membrane hybridization experiments revealed that most of the archaeal clones were affiliated with one of the two groups of marine archaea described previously, crenarchaeotal group I and euryarchaeotal group II. One of the 2,328 ribosomal DNA clones analyzed was related to a different euryarchaeal lineage, which was recently recovered from deep-water marine plankton. In temperate regions (Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea) both major groups were found at the two depths investigated; group II predominated at the surface, and group I predominated at depth. In Antarctic and subantarctic waters group II was practically absent. The clonal compositions of archaeal libraries were investigated by performing a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis with two tetrameric restriction enzymes, which defined discrete operational taxonomic units (OTUs). The OTUs defined in this way were phylogenetically consistent; clones belonging to the same OTU were closely related. The clonal diversity as determined by the RFLP analysis was low, and most libraries were dominated by only one or two OTUs. Some OTUs were found in samples obtained from very distant places, indicating that some phylotypes were ubiquitous. A tree containing one example of each OTU detected was constructed, and this tree revealed that there were several clusters within archaeal group I and group II. The members of some of these clusters had different depth distributions.
Marine microbial communities have been essential contributors to global biomass, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity since the early history of Earth, but so far their community distribution patterns remain unknown in most marine ecosystems.
The synthesis of 9.6 million bacterial V6-rRNA amplicons for 509 samples that span the global ocean's surface to the deep-sea floor shows that pelagic and benthic communities greatly differ, at all taxonomic levels, and share <10% bacterial types defined at 3% sequence similarity level. Surface and deep water, coastal and open ocean, and anoxic and oxic ecosystems host distinct communities that reflect productivity, land influences and other environmental constraints such as oxygen availability. The high variability of bacterial community composition specific to vent and coastal ecosystems reflects the heterogeneity and dynamic nature of these habitats. Both pelagic and benthic bacterial community distributions correlate with surface water productivity, reflecting the coupling between both realms by particle export. Also, differences in physical mixing may play a fundamental role in the distribution patterns of marine bacteria, as benthic communities showed a higher dissimilarity with increasing distance than pelagic communities.
This first synthesis of global bacterial distribution across different ecosystems of the World's oceans shows remarkable horizontal and vertical large-scale patterns in bacterial communities. This opens interesting perspectives for the definition of biogeographical biomes for bacteria of ocean waters and the seabed.
Mesophilic Crenarchaeota have recently been thought to be significant contributors to nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) cycling. In this study, we examined the vertical distribution of ammonia-oxidizing Crenarchaeota at offshore site in Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. The median value of the crenachaeal cell to amoA gene ratio was close to one suggesting that virtually all deep-sea Crenarchaeota possess the capacity to oxidize ammonia. Crenarchaea-specific genes, nirK and ureC, for nitrite reductase and urease were identified and their affiliation demonstrated the presence of ‘deep-sea' clades distinct from ‘shallow' representatives. Measured deep-sea dark CO2 fixation estimates were comparable to the median value of photosynthetic biomass production calculated for this area of Tyrrhenian Sea, pointing to the significance of this process in the C cycle of aphotic marine ecosystems. To elucidate the pivotal organisms in this process, we targeted known marine crenarchaeal autotrophy-related genes, coding for acetyl-CoA carboxylase (accA) and 4-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase (4-hbd). As in case of nirK and ureC, these genes are grouped with deep-sea sequences being distantly related to those retrieved from the epipelagic zone. To pair the molecular data with specific functional attributes we performed [14C]HCO3 incorporation experiments followed by analyses of radiolabeled proteins using shotgun proteomics approach. More than 100 oligopeptides were attributed to 40 marine crenarchaeal-specific proteins that are involved in 10 different metabolic processes, including autotrophy. Obtained results provided a clear proof of chemolithoautotrophic physiology of bathypelagic crenarchaeota and indicated that this numerically predominant group of microorganisms facilitate a hitherto unrecognized sink for inorganic C of a global importance.
crenarchaeal accA, amoA, nirK, ureC genes; autotrophic Crenarchaeota; Tyrrhenian Sea; dark ocean primary production; shotgun proteomics
Picoeukaryotes are protists ≤ 3 μm composed of a wide diversity of taxonomic groups. They are an important constituent of the ocean’s microbiota and perform essential ecological roles in marine nutrient and carbon cycles. Despite their importance, the true extent of their diversity has only recently been uncovered by molecular surveys that resulted in the discovery of a substantial number of previously unknown groups. No study on picoeukaryote diversity has been conducted so far in the main Red Sea basin-a unique marine environment characterized by oligotrophic conditions, high levels of irradiance, high salinity and increased water temperature.
We sampled surface waters off the coast of the northeastern Red Sea and analyzed the picoeukaryotic diversity using Sanger-based clone libraries of the 18S rRNA gene in order to produce high quality, nearly full-length sequences. The community captured by our approach was dominated by three main phyla, the alveolates, stramenopiles and chlorophytes; members of Radiolaria, Cercozoa and Haptophyta were also found, albeit in low abundances. Photosynthetic organisms were especially diverse and abundant in the sample, confirming the importance of picophytoplankton for primary production in the basin as well as indicating the existence of numerous ecological micro-niches for this trophic level in the upper euphotic zone. Heterotrophic organisms were mostly composed of the presumably parasitic Marine Alveolates (MALV) and the presumably bacterivorous Marine Stramenopiles (MAST) groups. A small number of sequences that did not cluster closely with known clades were also found, especially in the MALV-II group, some of which could potentially belong to novel clades.
This study provides the first snapshot of the picoeukaryotic diversity present in surface waters of the Red Sea, hence setting the stage for large-scale surveying and characterization of the eukaryotic diversity in the entire basin. Our results indicate that the picoeukaryotic community in the northern Red Sea, despite its unique physiochemical conditions (i.e. increased temperatures, increased salinity, and high UV irradiance) does not differ vastly from its counterparts in other oligotrophic marine habitats.
Picoeukaryotes; Red sea; Protists; SSU rRNA; Microbial diversity
Sea anemones (Cnidaria, Actiniaria) are present in all marine ecosystems, including chemosynthetic environments. The high level of endemicity of sea anemones in chemosynthetic environments and the taxonomic confusion in many of the groups to which these animals belong makes their systematic relationships obscure. We use five molecular markers to explore the phylogenetic relationships of the superfamily Mesomyaria, which includes most of the species that live in chemosynthetic, deep-sea, and polar sea habitats and to test the monophyly of the recently defined clades Actinostolina and Chemosynthina. We found that sea anemones of chemosynthetic environments derive from at least two different lineages: one lineage including acontiate deep-sea taxa and the other primarily encompassing shallow-water taxa.
The 16S rRNAs from the bacterial endosymbionts of six marine invertebrates from diverse environments were isolated and partially sequenced. These symbionts included the trophosome symbiont of Riftia pachyptila, the gill symbionts of Calyptogena magnifica and Bathymodiolus thermophilus (from deep-sea hydrothermal vents), and the gill symbionts of Lucinoma annulata, Lucinoma aequizonata, and Codakia orbicularis (from relatively shallow coastal environments). Only one type of bacterial 16S rRNA was detected in each symbiosis. Using nucleotide sequence comparisons, we showed that each of the bacterial symbionts is distinct from the others and that all fall within a limited domain of the gamma subdivision of the purple bacteria (one of the major eubacterial divisions previously defined by 16S rRNA analysis [C. R. Woese, Microbiol. Rev. 51: 221-271, 1987]). Two host specimens were analyzed in five of the symbioses; in each case, identical bacterial rRNA sequences were obtained from conspecific host specimens. These data indicate that the symbioses examined are species specific and that the symbiont species are unique to and invariant within their respective host species.
The deep-sea environments of the South Atlantic Ocean are less studied in comparison to the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With the aim of identifying the deep-sea bacteria in this less known ocean, 70 strains were isolated from eight sediment samples (depth range between 1905 to 5560 m) collected in the eastern part of the South Atlantic, from the equatorial region to the Cape Abyssal Plain, using three different culture media. The strains were classified into three phylogenetic groups, Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, by the analysis of 16s rRNA gene sequences. Gammaproteobacteria and Firmicutes were the most frequently identified groups, with Halomonas the most frequent genus among the strains. Microorganisms belonging to Firmicutes were the only ones observed in all samples. Sixteen of the 41 identified operational taxonomic units probably represent new species. The presence of potentially new species reinforces the need for new studies in the deep-sea environments of the South Atlantic.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-127) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Deep-sea sediments; South Atlantic Ocean; Phylogenetic identification; Cultivable bacteria; Halomonas
Microbial oxidation and precipitation of manganese at deep-sea hydrothermal vents are important oceanic biogeochemical processes, yet nothing is known about the types of microorganisms or mechanisms involved. Here we report isolation of a number of diverse spore-forming Mn(II)-oxidizing Bacillus species from Guaymas Basin, a deep-sea hydrothermal vent environment in the Gulf of California, where rapid microbially mediated Mn(II) oxidation was previously observed. mnxG multicopper oxidase genes involved in Mn(II) oxidation were amplified from all Mn(II)-oxidizing Bacillus spores isolated, suggesting that a copper-mediated mechanism of Mn(II) oxidation could be important at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA and mnxG genes revealed that while many of the deep-sea Mn(II)-oxidizing Bacillus species are very closely related to previously recognized isolates from coastal sediments, other organisms represent novel strains and clusters. The growth and Mn(II) oxidation properties of these Bacillus species suggest that in hydrothermal sediments they are likely present as spores that are active in oxidizing Mn(II) as it emerges from the seafloor.
To extend comparative metagenomic analyses of the deep-sea, we produced metagenomic data by direct 454 pyrosequencing from bathypelagic plankton (1000 m depth) and bottom sediment of the Sea of Marmara, the gateway between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Data from small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) gene libraries and direct pyrosequencing of the same samples indicated that Gamma- and Alpha-proteobacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes, dominated the bacterial fraction in Marmara deep-sea plankton, whereas Planctomycetes, Delta- and Gamma-proteobacteria were the most abundant groups in high bacterial-diversity sediment. Group I Crenarchaeota/Thaumarchaeota dominated the archaeal plankton fraction, although group II and III Euryarchaeota were also present. Eukaryotes were highly diverse in SSU rRNA gene libraries, with group I (Duboscquellida) and II (Syndiniales) alveolates and Radiozoa dominating plankton, and Opisthokonta and Alveolates, sediment. However, eukaryotic sequences were scarce in pyrosequence data. Archaeal amo genes were abundant in plankton, suggesting that Marmara planktonic Thaumarchaeota are ammonia oxidizers. Genes involved in sulfate reduction, carbon monoxide oxidation, anammox and sulfatases were over-represented in sediment. Genome recruitment analyses showed that Alteromonas macleodii ‘surface ecotype', Pelagibacter ubique and Nitrosopumilus maritimus were highly represented in 1000 m-deep plankton. A comparative analysis of Marmara metagenomes with ALOHA deep-sea and surface plankton, whale carcasses, Peru subsurface sediment and soil metagenomes clustered deep-sea Marmara plankton with deep-ALOHA plankton and whale carcasses, likely because of the suboxic conditions in the deep Marmara water column. The Marmara sediment clustered with the soil metagenome, highlighting the common ecological role of both types of microbial communities in the degradation of organic matter and the completion of biogeochemical cycles.
deep-sea; anaerobic respiration; carbon fixation; carbon cycle; sulfate reduction; ammonia oxidation
Studies of shallow-water hydrothermal vents have been lagging behind their deep-sea counterparts. Hence, the importance of these systems and their contribution to the local and regional diversity and biogeochemistry is unclear. This study analyzes the bacterial community along a transect at the shallow-water hydrothermal vent system of Milos island, Greece. The abundance and biomass of the prokaryotic community is comparable to areas not affected by hydrothermal activity and was, on average, 1.34 × 108 cells g−1. The abundance, biomass and diversity of the prokaryotic community increased with the distance from the center of the vent and appeared to be controlled by the temperature gradient rather than the trophic conditions. The retrieved 16S rRNA gene fragments matched sequences from a variety of geothermal environments, although the average similarity was low (94%), revealing previously undiscovered taxa. Epsilonproteobacteria constituted the majority of the population along the transect, with an average contribution to the total diversity of 60%. The larger cluster of 16S rRNA gene sequences was related to chemolithoautotrophic Sulfurovum spp., an Epsilonproteobacterium so far detected only at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The presence of previously unknown lineages of Epsilonproteobacteria could be related to the abundance of organic matter in these systems, which may support alternative metabolic strategies to chemolithoautotrophy. The relative contribution of Gammaproteobacteria to the Milos microbial community increased along the transect as the distance from the center of the vent increased. Further attempts to isolate key species from these ecosystems will be critical to shed light on their evolution and ecology.
bacteria; Epsilonproteobacteria; shallow-water hydrothermal vent; Milos; geothermal
Since their initial discovery in samples from the north Atlantic Ocean, 16S rRNA genes related to the environmental gene clone cluster known as SAR202 have been recovered from pelagic freshwater, marine sediment, soil, and deep subsurface terrestrial environments. Together, these clones form a major, monophyletic subgroup of the phylum Chloroflexi. While members of this diverse group are consistently identified in the marine environment, there are currently no cultured representatives, and very little is known about their distribution or abundance in the world's oceans. In this study, published and newly identified SAR202-related 16S rRNA gene sequences were used to further resolve the phylogeny of this cluster and to design taxon-specific oligonucleotide probes for fluorescence in situ hybridization. Direct cell counts from the Bermuda Atlantic time series study site in the north Atlantic Ocean, the Hawaii ocean time series site in the central Pacific Ocean, and along the Newport hydroline in eastern Pacific coastal waters showed that SAR202 cluster cells were most abundant below the deep chlorophyll maximum and that they persisted to 3,600 m in the Atlantic Ocean and to 4,000 m in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest samples used in this study. On average, members of the SAR202 group accounted for 10.2% (±5.7%) of all DNA-containing bacterioplankton between 500 and 4,000 m.