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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Fungi are considered the primary decomposers of dead plant biomass in terrestrial ecosystems. However, current knowledge regarding the successive changes in fungal communities during litter decomposition is limited. Here we explored the development of the fungal community over 24 months of litter decomposition in a temperate forest with dominant Quercus petraea using 454-pyrosequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and cellobiohydrolase I (cbhI) genes, which encode exocellulases, to specifically address cellulose decomposers. To quantify the involvement of phyllosphere fungi in litter decomposition, the fungal communities in live leaves and leaves immediately before abscission were also analysed. The results showed rapid succession of fungi with dramatic changes in the composition of the fungal community. Furthermore, most of the abundant taxa only temporarily dominated in the substrate. Fungal diversity was lowest at leaf senescence, increased until month 4 and did not significantly change during subsequent decomposition. Highly diverse community of phyllosphere fungi inhabits live oak leaves 2 months before abscission, and these phyllosphere taxa comprise a significant share of the fungal community during early decomposition up to the fourth month. Sequences assigned to the Ascomycota showed highest relative abundances in live leaves and during the early stages of decomposition. In contrast, the relative abundance of sequences assigned to the Basidiomycota phylum, particularly basidiomycetous yeasts, increased with time. Although cellulose was available in the litter during all stages of decomposition, the community of cellulolytic fungi changed substantially over time. The results indicate that litter decomposition is a highly complex process mediated by various fungal taxa.
fungi; litter decomposition; cellulose; endophyte; temperate forests
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Marine planktonic diatoms export carbon to the deep ocean, playing a key role in the global carbon cycle. Although commonly thought to have diversified over the Cenozoic as global oceans cooled, only two conflicting quantitative reconstructions exist, both from the Neptune deep-sea microfossil occurrences database. Total diversity shows Cenozoic increase but is sample size biased; conventional subsampling shows little net change. We calculate diversity from a separately compiled new diatom species range catalog, and recalculate Neptune subsampled-in-bin diversity using new methods to correct for increasing Cenozoic geographic endemism and decreasing Cenozoic evenness. We find coherent, substantial Cenozoic diversification in both datasets. Many living cold water species, including species important for export productivity, originate only in the latest Miocene or younger. We make a first quantitative comparison of diatom diversity to the global Cenozoic benthic ∂18O (climate) and carbon cycle records (∂13C, and 20-0 Ma pCO2). Warmer climates are strongly correlated with lower diatom diversity (raw: rho = .92, p<.001; detrended, r = .6, p = .01). Diatoms were 20% less diverse in the early late Miocene, when temperatures and pCO2 were only moderately higher than today. Diversity is strongly correlated to both ∂13C and pCO2 over the last 15 my (for both: r>.9, detrended r>.6, all p<.001), but only weakly over the earlier Cenozoic, suggesting increasingly strong linkage of diatom and climate evolution in the Neogene. Our results suggest that many living marine planktonic diatom species may be at risk of extinction in future warm oceans, with an unknown but potentially substantial negative impact on the ocean biologic pump and oceanic carbon sequestration. We cannot however extrapolate our my-scale correlations with generic climate proxies to anthropogenic time-scales of warming without additional species-specific information on proximate ecologic controls.
Cold-water corals are azooxanthellate species found throughout the ocean at water depths down to 5000 m. They occur in patches, reefs or large mound structures up to 380 m high, and as ecosystem engineers create important habitats for a diverse fauna. However, the majority of these habitats are now within reach of deep-sea bottom trawling. Many have been severely damaged or are under threat, despite recent protection initiatives. Here we present a cold-water coral habitat type that so far has been overlooked – quite literally – and that has received minimal impact from human activities. Vertical and overhanging cliffs in deep-sea canyons, revealed using an innovative approach to marine habitat mapping, are shown to provide the perfect substratum for extensive cold-water coral-based communities. Typical canyon-related processes, including locally enhanced internal tides and focussed downslope organic carbon transport, provide favourable environmental conditions (current regime, food input) to sustain the communities, even outside the optimal depth and density envelopes reported elsewhere in the NE Atlantic. Our findings show that deep-sea canyons can form natural refuges for faunal communities sensitive to anthropogenic disturbance, and have the potential to fulfil the crucial role of larval sources for the recolonisation of damaged sites elsewhere on the margin.
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.
We compared life-history traits and extinction risk of chondrichthyans (sharks, rays and chimaeras), a group of high conservation concern, from the three major marine habitats (continental shelves, open ocean and deep sea), controlling for phylogenetic correlation. Deep-water chondrichthyans had a higher age at maturity and longevity, and a lower growth completion rate than shallow-water species. The average fishing mortality needed to drive a deep-water chondrichthyan species to extinction (Fextinct) was 38–58% of that estimated for oceanic and continental shelf species, respectively. Mean values of Fextinct were 0.149, 0.250 and 0.368 for deep-water, oceanic and continental shelf species, respectively. Reproductive mode was an important determinant of extinction risk, while body size had a weak effect on extinction risk. As extinction risk was highly correlated with phylogeny, the loss of species will be accompanied by a loss of phylogenetic diversity. Conservation priority should not be restricted to large species, as is usually suggested, since many small species, like those inhabiting the deep ocean, are also highly vulnerable to extinction. Fishing mortality of deep-water chondrichthyans already exploited should be minimized, and new deep-water fisheries affecting chondrichthyans should be prevented.
deep sea; Chondrichthyes; elasmobranch; conservation; shark fisheries
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.
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.
The phylogenetic diversity of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) was surveyed in the surface sediments from the northern part of the South China Sea (SCS). The distribution pattern of AOA in the western Pacific was discussed through comparing the SCS with other areas in the western Pacific including Changjiang Estuary and the adjacent East China Sea where high input of anthropogenic nitrogen was evident, the tropical West Pacific Continental Margins close to the Philippines, the deep-sea methane seep sediments in the Okhotsk Sea, the cold deep sea of Northeastern Japan Sea, and the hydrothermal field in the Southern Okinawa Trough. These various environments provide a wide spectrum of physical and chemical conditions for a better understanding of the distribution pattern and diversities of AOA in the western Pacific. Under these different conditions, the distinct community composition between shallow and deep-sea sediments was clearly delineated based on the UniFrac PCoA and Jackknife Environmental Cluster analyses. Phylogenetic analyses showed that a few ammonia-oxidizing archaeal subclades in the marine water column/sediment clade and endemic lineages were indicative phylotypes for some environments. Higher phylogenetic diversity was observed in the Philippines while lower diversity in the hydrothermal vent habitat. Water depth and possibly with other environmental factors could be the main driving forces to shape the phylogenetic diversity of AOA observed, not only in the SCS but also in the whole western Pacific. The multivariate regression tree analysis also supported this observation consistently. Moreover, the functions of current and other climate factors were also discussed in comparison of phylogenetic diversity. The information collectively provides important insights into the ecophysiological requirements of uncultured ammonia-oxidizing archaeal lineages in the western Pacific Ocean.
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We describe a new species of the remarkable whalebone-eating siboglinid worm genus, Osedax, from a whale carcass in the shallow north Atlantic, west of Sweden. Previously only recorded from deep-sea (1500–3000 m) whale-falls in the northeast Pacific, this is the first species of Osedax known from a shelf-depth whale-fall, and the first from the Atlantic Ocean. The new species, Osedax mucofloris sp. n., is abundant on the bones of an experimentally implanted Minke whale carcass (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) at 125 m depth in the shallow North Sea. O. mucofloris can be cultured on bones maintained in aquaria. The presence of O. mucofloris in the shallow North Sea and northeast Pacific suggests global distribution on whale-falls for the Osedax clade. Molecular evidence from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1) and 18S rRNA sequences suggests that O. mucofloris has high dispersal rates, and provides support for the idea of whale-falls acting as ‘stepping-stones’ for the global dispersal of siboglinid annelids over ecological and evolutionary time.
Annelida; Polychaeta; Siboglinidae; Pogonophora; CO1