Roseobacter clade bacteria (RCB) are abundant in marine bacterioplankton worldwide and central to pelagic sulfur cycling. Very little is known about their abundance and function in marine sediments. We investigated the abundance, diversity and sulfur oxidation potential of RCB in surface sediments of two tidal flats. Here, RCB accounted for up to 9.6% of all cells and exceeded abundances commonly known for pelagic RCB by 1000-fold as revealed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA and sulfate thiohydrolase (SoxB) genes indicated diverse, possibly sulfur-oxidizing RCB related to sequences known from bacterioplankton and marine biofilms. To investigate the sulfur oxidation potential of RCB in sediments in more detail, we analyzed a metagenomic fragment from a RCB. This fragment encoded the reverse dissimilatory sulfite reductase (rDSR) pathway, which was not yet found in RCB, a novel type of sulfite dehydrogenase (SoeABC) and the Sox multi-enzyme complex including the SoxCD subunits. This was unexpected as soxCD and dsr genes were presumed to be mutually exclusive in sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes. This unique gene arrangement would allow a metabolic flexibility beyond known sulfur-oxidizing pathways. We confirmed the presence of dsrA by geneFISH in closely related RCB from an enrichment culture. Our results show that RCB are an integral part of the microbial community in marine sediments, where they possibly oxidize inorganic and organic sulfur compounds in oxic and suboxic sediment layers.
geneFISH; Roseobacter ; sediment; sulfur oxidation
Members of the highly diverse Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotal Group (MCG) are globally distributed in various marine and continental habitats. In this study, we applied a polyphasic approach (rRNA slot blot hybridization, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and catalyzed reporter deposition FISH) using newly developed probes and primers for the in situ detection and quantification of MCG crenarchaeota in diverse types of marine sediments and microbial mats. In general, abundance of MCG (cocci, 0.4 μm) relative to other archaea was highest (12–100%) in anoxic, low-energy environments characterized by deeper sulfate depletion and lower microbial respiration rates (P=0.06 for slot blot and P=0.05 for qPCR). When studied in high depth resolution in the White Oak River estuary and Hydrate Ridge methane seeps, changes in MCG abundance relative to total archaea and MCG phylogenetic composition did not correlate with changes in sulfate reduction or methane oxidation with depth. In addition, MCG abundance did not vary significantly (P>0.1) between seep sites (with high rates of methanotrophy) and non-seep sites (with low rates of methanotrophy). This suggests that MCG are likely not methanotrophs. MCG crenarchaeota are highly diverse and contain 17 subgroups, with a range of intragroup similarity of 82 to 94%. This high diversity and widespread distribution in subsurface sediments indicates that this group is globally important in sedimentary processes.
benthic archaea; marine sediments; MCG; crenarchaeota
The methane-emitting cold seeps of Hikurangi margin (New Zealand) are among the few deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems of the Southern Hemisphere known to date. Here we compared the biogeochemistry and microbial communities of a variety of Hikurangi cold seep ecosystems. These included highly reduced seep habitats dominated by bacterial mats, partially oxidized habitats populated by heterotrophic ampharetid polychaetes and deeply oxidized habitats dominated by chemosynthetic frenulate tubeworms. The ampharetid habitats were characterized by a thick oxic sediment layer that hosted a diverse and biomass-rich community of aerobic methanotrophic Gammaproteobacteria. These bacteria consumed up to 25% of the emanating methane and clustered within three deep-branching groups named Marine Methylotrophic Group (MMG) 1-3. MMG1 and MMG2 methylotrophs belong to the order Methylococcales, whereas MMG3 methylotrophs are related to the Methylophaga. Organisms of the groups MMG1 and MMG3 are close relatives of chemosynthetic endosymbionts of marine invertebrates. The anoxic sediment layers of all investigated seeps were dominated by anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) of the ANME-2 clade and sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria. Microbial community analysis using Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA) showed that the different seep habitats hosted distinct microbial communities, which were strongly influenced by the seep-associated fauna and the geographic location. Despite outstanding features of Hikurangi seep communities, the organisms responsible for key ecosystem functions were similar to those found at seeps worldwide. This suggests that similar types of biogeochemical settings select for similar community composition regardless of geographic distance. Because ampharetid polychaetes are widespread at cold seeps the role of aerobic methanotrophy may have been underestimated in seafloor methane budgets.
Iron fertilization experiments in high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll areas are known to induce phytoplankton blooms. However, little is known about the response of the microbial community upon iron fertilization. As part of the LOHAFEX experiment in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Bacteria and Archaea were monitored within and outside an induced bloom, dominated by Phaeocystis-like nanoplankton, during the 38 days of the experiment. The microbial production increased 1.6-fold (thymidine uptake) and 2.1-fold (leucine uptake), while total cell numbers increased only slightly over the course of the experiment. 454 tag pyrosequencing of partial 16S rRNA genes and catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD FISH) showed that the composition and abundance of the bacterial and archaeal community in the iron-fertilized water body were remarkably constant without development of typical bloom-related succession patterns. Members of groups usually found in phytoplankton blooms, such as Roseobacter and Gammaproteobacteria, showed no response or only a minor response to the bloom. However, sequence numbers and total cell numbers of the SAR11 and SAR86 clades increased slightly but significantly toward the end of the experiment. It seems that although microbial productivity was enhanced within the fertilized area, a succession-like response of the microbial community upon the algal bloom was averted by highly effective grazing. Only small-celled members like the SAR11 and SAR86 clades could possibly escape the grazing pressure, explaining a net increase of those clades in numbers.
Desulfocapsa sulfexigens SB164P1 (DSM 10523) belongs to the deltaproteobacterial family Desulfobulbaceae and is one of two validly described members of its genus. This strain was selected for genome sequencing, because it is the first marine bacterium reported to thrive on the disproportionation of elemental sulfur, a process with a unresolved enzymatic pathway in which elemental sulfur serves both as electron donor and electron acceptor. Furthermore, in contrast to its phylogenetically closest relatives, which are dissimilatory sulfate-reducers, D. sulfexigens is unable to grow by sulfate reduction and appears metabolically specialized in growing by disproportionating elemental sulfur, sulfite or thiosulfate with CO2 as the sole carbon source. The genome of D. sulfexigens contains the set of genes that is required for nitrogen fixation. In an acetylene assay it could be shown that the strain reduces acetylene to ethylene, which is indicative for N-fixation. The circular chromosome of D. sulfexigens SB164P1 comprises 3,986,761 bp and harbors 3,551 protein-coding genes of which 78% have a predicted function based on auto-annotation. The chromosome furthermore encodes 46 tRNA genes and 3 rRNA operons.
Sulfur-cycle; thiosulfate; sulfite; sulfur disproportionation; marine; sediment
Tinto River (Huelva, Spain) is a natural acidic rock drainage (ARD) environment produced by the bio-oxidation of metallic sulfides from the Iberian Pyritic Belt. This study quantified the abundance of diverse microbial populations inhabiting ARD-related sediments from two physicochemically contrasting sampling sites (SN and JL dams). Depth profiles of total cell numbers differed greatly between the two sites yet were consistent in decreasing sharply at greater depths. Although catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization with domain-specific probes showed that Bacteria (>98%) dominated over Archaea (<2%) at both sites, important differences were detected at the class and genus levels, reflecting differences in pH, redox potential, and heavy metal concentrations. At SN, where the pH and redox potential are similar to that of the water column (pH 2.5 and +400 mV), the most abundant organisms were identified as iron-reducing bacteria: Acidithiobacillus spp. and Acidiphilium spp., probably related to the higher iron solubility at low pH. At the JL dam, characterized by a banded sediment with higher pH (4.2 to 6.2), more reducing redox potential (−210 mV to 50 mV), and a lower solubility of iron, members of sulfate-reducing genera Syntrophobacter, Desulfosporosinus, and Desulfurella were dominant. The latter was quantified with a newly designed CARD-FISH probe. In layers where sulfate-reducing bacteria were abundant, pH was higher and redox potential and levels of dissolved metals and iron were lower. These results suggest that the attenuation of ARD characteristics is biologically driven by sulfate reducers and the consequent precipitation of metals and iron as sulfides.
Microbial communities play a key role in the marine carbon cycle, processing much of phytoplankton-derived organic matter. The composition of these communities varies by depth, season, and location in the ocean; the functional consequences of these compositional variations for the carbon cycle are only beginning to be explored. We measured the abilities of microbial communities in the large-particle fraction (retained by a 10-μm pore-size cartridge filter) to enzymatically hydrolyze high molecular weight substrates, and therefore initiate carbon remineralization in four distinct oceanic provinces: the boreal polar (BPLR), the Arctic oceanic (ARCT), the North Atlantic drift (NADR), and the North Atlantic subtropical (NAST) provinces. Since we expected the large-particle fraction to include phytoplankton cells, we measured the hydrolysis of polysaccharide substrates (laminarin, fucoidan, xylan, and chondroitin sulfate) expected to be associated with phytoplankton. Hydrolysis rates and patterns clustered into two groups, the BPLR/ARCT and the NADR/NAST. All four substrates were hydrolyzed by the BPLR/ARCT communities; hydrolysis rates of individual substrate varied by factors of ca. 1–4. In contrast, chondroitin was not hydrolyzed in the NADR/NAST, and hydrolytic activity was dominated by laminarinase. Fluorescence in situ hybridization of the large-particle fraction post-incubation showed a substantial contribution (15–26%) of CF319a-positive cells (Bacteroidetes) to total DAPI-stainable cells. Concurrent studies of microbial community composition and of fosmids from these same stations also demonstrated similarities between BPLR and ARCT stations, which were distinct from the NADR/NAST stations. Together, these data support a picture of compositionally as well as functionally distinct communities across these oceanic provinces.
extracellular enzymes; biogeography; particles-associated bacteria; hydrolysis; carbon cycling
The anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) with sulfate controls the emission of the greenhouse gas methane from the ocean floor. AOM is performed by microbial consortia of archaea (ANME) associated with partners related to sulfate-reducing bacteria. In vitro enrichments of AOM were so far only successful at temperatures ⩽25 °C; however, energy gain for growth by AOM with sulfate is in principle also possible at higher temperatures. Sequences of 16S rRNA genes and core lipids characteristic for ANME as well as hints of in situ AOM activity were indeed reported for geothermally heated marine environments, yet no direct evidence for thermophilic growth of marine ANME consortia was obtained to date. To study possible thermophilic AOM, we investigated hydrothermally influenced sediment from the Guaymas Basin. In vitro incubations showed activity of sulfate-dependent methane oxidation between 5 and 70 °C with an apparent optimum between 45 and 60 °C. AOM was absent at temperatures ⩾75 °C. Long-term enrichment of AOM was fastest at 50 °C, yielding a 13-fold increase of methane-dependent sulfate reduction within 250 days, equivalent to an apparent doubling time of 68 days. The enrichments were dominated by novel ANME-1 consortia, mostly associated with bacterial partners of the deltaproteobacterial HotSeep-1 cluster, a deeply branching phylogenetic group previously found in a butane-amended 60 °C-enrichment culture of Guaymas sediments. The closest relatives (Desulfurella spp.; Hippea maritima) are moderately thermophilic sulfur reducers. Results indicate that AOM and ANME archaea could be of biogeochemical relevance not only in cold to moderate but also in hot marine habitats.
anaerobic methanotrophy; ANME; syntrophy; thermophilic microorganisms
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have enabled the application of broad-scale sequencing in microbial biodiversity and metagenome studies. Biodiversity is usually targeted by classifying 16S ribosomal RNA genes, while metagenomic approaches target metabolic genes. However, both approaches remain isolated, as long as the taxonomic and functional information cannot be interrelated. Techniques like self-organizing maps (SOMs) have been applied to cluster metagenomes into taxon-specific bins in order to link biodiversity with functions, but have not been applied to broad-scale NGS-based metagenomics yet. Here, we provide a novel implementation, demonstrate its potential and practicability, and provide a web-based service for public usage. Evaluation with published data sets mimicking varyingly complex habitats resulted into classification specificities and sensitivities of close to 100% to above 90% from phylum to genus level for assemblies exceeding 8 kb for low and medium complexity data. When applied to five real-world metagenomes of medium complexity from direct pyrosequencing of marine subsurface waters, classifications of assemblies above 2.5 kb were in good agreement with fluorescence in situ hybridizations, indicating that biodiversity was mostly retained within the metagenomes, and confirming high classification specificities. This was validated by two protein-based classifications (PBCs) methods. SOMs were able to retrieve the relevant taxa down to the genus level, while surpassing PBCs in resolution. In order to make the approach accessible to a broad audience, we implemented a feature-rich web-based SOM application named TaxSOM, which is freely available at http://www.megx.net/toolbox/taxsom. TaxSOM can classify reads or assemblies exceeding 2.5 kb with high accuracy and thus assists in linking biodiversity and functions in metagenome studies, which is a precondition to study microbial ecology in a holistic fashion.
binning; metagenomics; molecular ecology; self-organizing map (SOM); taxonomic classification; TaxSOM
Members of the bacterial phylum Planctomycetes are reported in marine water samples worldwide, but quantitative information is scarce. Here we investigated the phylogenetic diversity, abundance, and distribution of Planctomycetes in surface waters off the German North Sea island Helgoland during different seasons by 16S rRNA gene analysis and catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH). Generally Planctomycetes are more abundant in samples collected in summer and autumn than in samples collected in winter and spring. Statistical analysis revealed that Planctomycetes abundance was correlated to the Centrales diatom bloom in spring 2007. The analysis of size-fractionated seawater samples and of macroaggregates showed that ∼90% of the Planctomycetes reside in the >3-μm size fraction. Comparative sequence analysis of 184 almost full-length 16S rRNA genes revealed three dominant clades. The clades, named Planctomyces-related group A, uncultured Planctomycetes group B, and Pirellula-related group D, were monitored by CARD-FISH using newly developed oligonucleotide probes. All three clades showed recurrent abundance patterns during two annual sampling campaigns. Uncultured Planctomycetes group B was most abundant in autumn samples, while Planctomyces-related group A was present in high numbers only during late autumn and winter. The levels of Pirellula-related group D were more constant throughout the year, with elevated counts in summer. Our analyses suggest that the seasonal succession of the Planctomycetes is correlated with algal blooms. We hypothesize that the niche partitioning of the different clades might be caused by their algal substrates.
In this report, we describe the selective cloning of large DNA fragments from magnetotactic metagenomes from various aquatic habitats. This was achieved by a two-step magnetic enrichment which allowed the mass collection of environmental magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) virtually free of nonmagnetic contaminants. Four fosmid libraries were constructed and screened by end sequencing and hybridization analysis using heterologous magnetosome gene probes. A total of 14 fosmids were fully sequenced. We identified and characterized two fosmids, most likely originating from two different alphaproteobacterial strains of MTB that contain several putative operons with homology to the magnetosome island (MAI) of cultivated MTB. This is the first evidence that uncultivated MTB exhibit similar yet differing organizations of the MAI, which may account for the diversity in biomineralization and magnetotaxis observed in MTB from various environments.
Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) belonging to the metabolically versatile Desulfobacteriaceae are abundant in marine sediments and contribute to the global carbon cycle by complete oxidation of organic compounds. Desulfobacterium autotrophicum HRM2 is the first member of this ecophysiologically important group with a now available genome sequence. With 5.6 megabasepairs (Mbp) the genome of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is about 2 Mbp larger than the sequenced genomes of other sulfate reducers (SRB). A high number of genome plasticity elements (> 100 transposon-related genes), several regions of GC discontinuity and a high number of repetitive elements (132 paralogous genes Mbp−1) point to a different genome evolution when comparing with Desulfovibrio spp. The metabolic versatility of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is reflected in the presence of genes for the degradation of a variety of organic compounds including long-chain fatty acids and for the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, which enables the organism to completely oxidize acetyl-CoA to CO2 but also to grow chemolithoautotrophically. The presence of more than 250 proteins of the sensory/regulatory protein families should enable Db. autotrophicum HRM2 to efficiently adapt to changing environmental conditions. Genes encoding periplasmic or cytoplasmic hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenases have been detected as well as genes for the transmembrane TpII-c3, Hme and Rnf complexes. Genes for subunits A, B, C and D as well as for the proposed novel subunits L and F of the heterodisulfide reductases are present. This enzyme is involved in energy conservation in methanoarchaea and it is speculated that it exhibits a similar function in the process of dissimilatory sulfate reduction in Db. autotrophicum HRM2.
Recent studies have shown that the anaerobic oxidation of ammonium by anammox bacteria plays an important role in catalyzing the loss of nitrogen from marine oxygen minimum zones (OMZ). However, in situ oxygen concentrations of up to 25 μM and ammonium concentrations close to or below the detection limit in the layer of anammox activity are hard to reconcile with the current knowledge of the physiology of anammox bacteria. We therefore investigated samples from the Namibian OMZ by comparative 16S rRNA gene analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Our results showed that “Candidatus Scalindua” spp., the typical marine anammox bacteria, colonized microscopic particles that were likely the remains of either macroscopic marine snow particles or resuspended particles. These particles were slightly but significantly (P < 0.01) enriched in Gammaproteobacteria (11.8% ± 5.0%) compared to the free-water phase (8.1% ± 1.8%). No preference for the attachment to particles could be observed for members of the Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, which were abundant (12 to 17%) in both habitats. The alphaproteobacterial SAR11 clade, the Euryarchaeota, and group I Crenarchaeota, were all significantly depleted in particles compared to their presence in the free-water phase (16.5% ± 3.5% versus 2.6% ± 1.7%, 2.7% ± 1.9% versus <1%, and 14.9% ± 4.6% versus 2.2% ± 1.8%, respectively, all P < 0.001). Sequence analysis of the crenarchaeotal 16S rRNA genes showed a 99% sequence identity to the nitrifying “Nitrosopumilus maritimus.” Even though we could not observe conspicuous consortium-like structures of anammox bacteria with particle-enriched bacterioplankton groups, we hypothesize that members of Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes play a critical role in extending the anammox reaction to nutrient-depleted suboxic water layers in the Namibian upwelling system by creating anoxic, nutrient-enriched microniches.
Marine sediments are frequently covered by mats of the filamentous Beggiatoa and other large nitrate-storing bacteria that oxidize hydrogen sulfide using either oxygen or nitrate, which they store in intracellular vacuoles. Despite their conspicuous metabolic properties and their biogeochemical importance, little is known about their genetic repertoire because of the lack of pure cultures. Here, we present a unique approach to access the genome of single filaments of Beggiatoa by combining whole genome amplification, pyrosequencing, and optical genome mapping. Sequence assemblies were incomplete and yielded average contig sizes of approximately 1 kb. Pathways for sulfur oxidation, nitrate and oxygen respiration, and CO2 fixation confirm the chemolithoautotrophic physiology of Beggiatoa. In addition, Beggiatoa potentially utilize inorganic sulfur compounds and dimethyl sulfoxide as electron acceptors. We propose a mechanism of vacuolar nitrate accumulation that is linked to proton translocation by vacuolar-type ATPases. Comparative genomics indicates substantial horizontal gene transfer of storage, metabolic, and gliding capabilities between Beggiatoa and cyanobacteria. These capabilities enable Beggiatoa to overcome non-overlapping availabilities of electron donors and acceptors while gliding between oxic and sulfidic zones. The first look into the genome of these filamentous sulfur-oxidizing bacteria substantially deepens the understanding of their evolution and their contribution to sulfur and nitrogen cycling in marine sediments.
In 1888 Winogradsky proposed the concept of chemolithotrophy—growth using inorganic compounds as an energy source—after studying the sulfur bacterium Beggiatoa. These filamentous bacteria and related organisms inhabit the surface of marine and freshwater sediments, where they oxidize hydrogen sulfide using either oxygen or nitrate. In particular, conspicuously large marine representatives accumulate nitrate in vacuoles to survive anoxia, a unique feature among prokaryotes. Since nitrate-storing Beggiatoa are not available in pure culture, we amplified and sequenced the genomic DNA of single multicellular filaments. We comprehensively tested the incomplete sequence assemblies for foreign DNA. We show that the Beggiatoa genome encodes the pathways of chemolithoautotrophy but also appears to support the use of alternative electron donors and acceptors. We propose that vacuolar-type ATPases generate an electrochemical gradient to drive nitrate transport over the vacuole membrane, a mechanism similar to eukaryotic solute accumulation. Intriguingly, we found evidence for substantial gene exchange between Beggiatoa and cyanobacteria. In both phyla, hemagglutinins are possibly involved in filament formation. The breadth of storage and metabolic capabilities encoded in its genome enables Beggiatoa to act as a “rechargeable battery,” which glides between oxic and sulfidic zones to overcome non-overlapping availabilities of electron donors and acceptors.
Examining the genome of single filaments of Beggiatoa deepens our understanding of their contribution to sulfur and nitrogen cycling in marine sediments.
Submarine mud volcanoes are formed by expulsions of mud, fluids, and gases from deeply buried subsurface sources. They are highly reduced benthic habitats and often associated with intensive methane seepage. In this study, the microbial diversity and community structure in methane-rich sediments of the Haakon Mosby Mud Volcano (HMMV) were investigated by comparative sequence analysis of 16S rRNA genes and fluorescence in situ hybridization. In the active volcano center, which has a diameter of about 500 m, the main methane-consuming process was bacterial aerobic oxidation. In this zone, aerobic methanotrophs belonging to three bacterial clades closely affiliated with Methylobacter and Methylophaga species accounted for 56% ± 8% of total cells. In sediments below Beggiatoa mats encircling the center of the HMMV, methanotrophic archaea of the ANME-3 clade dominated the zone of anaerobic methane oxidation. ANME-3 archaea form cell aggregates mostly associated with sulfate-reducing bacteria of the Desulfobulbus (DBB) branch. These ANME-3/DBB aggregates were highly abundant and accounted for up to 94% ± 2% of total microbial biomass at 2 to 3 cm below the surface. ANME-3/DBB aggregates could be further enriched by flow cytometry to identify their phylogenetic relationships. At the outer rim of the mud volcano, the seafloor was colonized by tubeworms (Siboglinidae, formerly known as Pogonophora). Here, both aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidizers were found, however, in lower abundances. The level of microbial diversity at this site was higher than that at the central and Beggiatoa species-covered part of the HMMV. Analysis of methyl-coenzyme M-reductase alpha subunit (mcrA) genes showed a strong dominance of a novel lineage, mcrA group f, which could be assigned to ANME-3 archaea. Our results further support the hypothesis of Niemann et al. (54), that high methane availability and different fluid flow regimens at the HMMV provide distinct niches for aerobic and anaerobic methanotrophs.
We determined whether a recently developed method to isolate specific small-subunit (SSU) rRNAs can be used in 13C-labeling studies to directly link community structure and function in natural ecosystems. Replicate North Sea sediment cores were incubated at the in situ temperature following addition of 13C-labeled acetate, propionate, amino acids, or glucose. Eukaryotic and bacterial SSU rRNAs were separated from total RNA by means of biotin-labeled oligonucleotide probes and streptavidin-coated paramagnetic beads, and the 13C content of the isolated rRNA was determined by elemental analysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry. The SSU rRNA yield with the bead-capture protocol was improved by using helper probes. Incorporation of label into bacterial SSU rRNA was detectable after 2 h of incubation. The labeling was always much greater in bacterial SSU rRNA than in eukaryotic SSU rRNA, suggesting that bacteria were the main consumers of the 13C-labeled compounds. Similar results were obtained with the 13C-labeled polar-lipid-derived fatty acid (PLFA) approach, except that more label was detected in bacterial PLFA than in bacterial SSU rRNA. This may be attributable to the generally slow growth of sediment microbial populations, which results in low ribosome synthesis rates and relatively few ribosomes per cell. We discuss possible ways to improve the probe-capture protocol and the sensitivity of the 13C analysis of the captured SSU rRNA.
Gutless oligochaetes are small marine worms that live in obligate associations with bacterial endosymbionts. While symbionts from several host species belonging to the genus Olavius have been described, little is known of the symbionts from the host genus Inanidrilus. In this study, the diversity of bacterial endosymbionts in Inanidrilus leukodermatus from Bermuda and Inanidrilus makropetalos from the Bahamas was investigated using comparative sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene and fluorescence in situ hybridization. As in all other gutless oligochaetes examined to date, I. leukodermatus and I. makropetalos harbor large, oval bacteria identified as Gamma 1 symbionts. The presence of genes coding for ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase form I (cbbL) and adenosine 5′-phosphosulfate reductase (aprA) supports earlier studies indicating that these symbionts are chemoautotrophic sulfur oxidizers. Alphaproteobacteria, previously identified only in the gutless oligochaete Olavius loisae from the southwest Pacific Ocean, coexist with the Gamma 1 symbionts in both I. leukodermatus and I. makropetalos, with the former harboring four and the latter two alphaproteobacterial phylotypes. The presence of these symbionts in hosts from such geographically distant oceans as the Atlantic and Pacific suggests that symbioses with alphaproteobacterial symbionts may be widespread in gutless oligochaetes. The high phylogenetic diversity of bacterial endosymbionts in two species of the genus Inanidrilus, previously known only from members of the genus Olavius, shows that the stable coexistence of multiple symbionts is a common feature in gutless oligochaetes.
The dissimilatory reduction of sulfate is an ancient metabolic process central to today's biogeochemical cycling of sulfur and carbon in marine sediments. Until now its polyphyletic distribution was most parsimoniously explained by multiple horizontal transfers of single genes rather than by a not-yet-identified “metabolic island.” Here we provide evidence that the horizontal transfer of a gene cluster may indeed be responsible for the patchy distribution of sulfate-reducing prokaryotes (SRP) in the phylogenetic tree. We isolated three DNA fragments (32 to 41 kb) from uncultured, closely related SRP from DNA directly extracted from two distinct marine sediments. Fosmid ws39f7, and partially also fosmids ws7f8 and hr42c9, harbored a core set of essential genes for the dissimilatory reduction of sulfate, including enzymes for the reduction of sulfur intermediates and synthesis of the prosthetic group of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase. Genome comparisons suggest that encoded membrane proteins universally present among SRP are critical for electron transfer to cytoplasmic enzymes. In addition, novel, conserved hypothetical proteins that are likely involved in dissimilatory sulfate reduction were identified. Based on comparative genomics and previously published experimental evidence, a more comprehensive model of dissimilatory sulfate reduction is presented. The observed clustering of genes involved in dissimilatory sulfate reduction has not been previously found. These findings strongly support the hypothesis that genes responsible for dissimilatory sulfate reduction were concomitantly transferred in a single event among prokaryotes. The acquisition of an optimized gene set would enormously facilitate a successful implementation of a novel pathway.
Major biogeochemical processes in the water columns of lakes and oceans are related to the activities of heterotrophic microbes, e.g., the mineralization of organic carbon from photosynthesis and allochthonous influx or its transport to the higher trophic levels. During the last 15 years, cultivation-independent molecular techniques have substantially contributed to our understanding of the diversity of the microbial communities in different aquatic systems. In parallel, the complexity of aquatic habitats at a microscale has inspired research on the ecophysiological properties of uncultured microorganisms that thrive in a continuum of dissolved to particulate organic matter. One possibility to link these two aspects is to adopt a “Gleasonian” perspective, i.e., to study aquatic microbial assemblages in situ at the population level rather than looking at microbial community structure, diversity, or function as a whole. This review compiles current knowledge about the role and fate of different populations of heterotrophic picoplankton in marine and inland waters. Specifically, we focus on a growing suite of techniques that link the analysis of bacterial identity with growth, morphology, and various physiological activities at the level of single cells. An overview is given of the potential and limitations of methodological approaches, and factors that might control the population sizes of different microbes in pelagic habitats are discussed.
Deep-sea mussels of the genus Bathymodiolus (Bivalvia: Mytilidae) harbor symbiotic bacteria in their gills and are among the dominant invertebrate species at cold seeps and hydrothermal vents. An undescribed Bathymodiolus species was collected at a depth of 3,150 m in a newly discovered cold seep area on the southeast Atlantic margin, close to the Zaire channel. Transmission electron microscopy, comparative 16S rRNA analysis, and fluorescence in situ hybridization indicated that this Bathymodiolus sp. lives in a dual symbiosis with sulfide- and methane-oxidizing bacteria. A distinct distribution pattern of the symbiotic bacteria in the gill epithelium was observed, with the thiotrophic symbiont dominating the apical region and the methanotrophic symbiont more abundant in the basal region of the bacteriocytes. No variations in this distribution pattern or in the relative abundances of the two symbionts were observed in mussels collected from three different mussel beds with methane concentrations ranging from 0.7 to 33.7 μM. The 16S rRNA sequence of the methanotrophic symbiont is most closely related to those of known methanotrophic symbionts from other bathymodiolid mussels. Surprisingly, the thiotrophic Bathymodiolus sp. 16S rRNA sequence does not fall into the monophyletic group of sequences from thiotrophic symbionts of all other Bathymodiolus hosts. While these mussel species all come from vents, this study describes the first thiotrophic sequence from a seep mussel and shows that it is most closely related (99% sequence identity) to an environmental clone sequence obtained from a hydrothermal plume near Japan.
Taxon specific hybridization probes in combination with a variety of commonly used hybridization formats nowadays are standard tools in microbial identification. A frequently applied technology, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), besides single cell identification, allows the localization and functional studies of the microbial community composition. Careful in silico design and evaluation of potential oligonucleotide probe targets is therefore crucial for performing successful hybridization experiments.
The PROBE Design tools of the ARB software package take into consideration several criteria such as number, position and quality of diagnostic sequence differences while designing oligonucleotide probes. Additionally, new visualization tools were developed to enable the user to easily examine further sequence associated criteria such as higher order structure, conservation, G+C content, transition-transversion profiles and in situ target accessibility patterns. The different types of sequence associated information (SAI) can be visualized by user defined background colors within the ARB primary and secondary structure editors as well as in the PROBE Match tool.
Using this tool, in silico probe design and evaluation can be performed with respect to in situ probe accessibility data. The evaluation of proposed probe targets with respect to higher-order rRNA structure is of importance for successful design and performance of in situ hybridization experiments. The entire ARB software package along with the probe accessibility data is available from the ARB home page .
Olavius crassitunicatus is a small symbiont-bearing worm that occurs at high abundance in oxygen-deficient sediments in the East Pacific Ocean. Using comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization, we examined the diversity and phylogeny of bacterial symbionts in two geographically distant O. crassitunicatus populations (separated by 385 km) on the Peru margin (water depth, ∼300 m). Five distinct bacterial phylotypes co-occurred in all specimens from both sites: two members of the γ-Proteobacteria (Gamma 1 and 2 symbionts), two members of the δ-Proteobacteria (Delta 1 and 2 symbionts), and one spirochete. A sixth phylotype belonging to the δ-Proteobacteria (Delta 3 symbiont) was found in only one of the two host populations. Three of the O. crassitunicatus bacterial phylotypes are closely related to symbionts of other gutless oligochaete species; the Gamma 1 phylotype is closely related to sulfide-oxidizing symbionts of Olavius algarvensis, Olavius loisae, and Inanidrilus leukodermatus, the Delta 1 phylotype is closely related to sulfate-reducing symbionts of O. algarvensis, and the spirochete is closely related to spirochetal symbionts of O. loisae. In contrast, the Gamma 2 phylotype and the Delta 2 and 3 phylotypes belong to novel lineages that are not related to other bacterial symbionts. Such a phylogenetically diverse yet highly specific and stable association in which multiple bacterial phylotypes coexist within a single host has not been described previously for marine invertebrates.
In this study we investigated by using 16S rRNA-based methods the distribution and biomass of archaea in samples from (i) sediments above outcropping methane hydrate at Hydrate Ridge (Cascadia margin off Oregon) and (ii) massive microbial mats enclosing carbonate reefs (Crimea area, Black Sea). The archaeal diversity was low in both locations; there were only four (Hydrate Ridge) and five (Black Sea) different phylogenetic clusters of sequences, most of which belonged to the methanotrophic archaea (ANME). ANME group 2 (ANME-2) sequences were the most abundant and diverse sequences at Hydrate Ridge, whereas ANME-1 sequences dominated the Black Sea mats. Other seep-specific sequences belonged to the newly defined group ANME-3 (related to Methanococcoides spp.) and to the Crenarchaeota of marine benthic group B. Quantitative analysis of the samples by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) showed that ANME-1 and ANME-2 co-occurred at the cold seep sites investigated. At Hydrate Ridge the surface sediments were dominated by aggregates consisting of ANME-2 and members of the Desulfosarcina-Desulfococcus branch (DSS) (ANME-2/DSS aggregates), which accounted for >90% of the total cell biomass. The numbers of ANME-1 cells increased strongly with depth; these cells accounted 1% of all single cells at the surface and more than 30% of all single cells (5% of the total cells) in 7- to 10-cm sediment horizons that were directly above layers of gas hydrate. In the Black Sea microbial mats ANME-1 accounted for about 50% of all cells. ANME-2/DSS aggregates occurred in microenvironments within the mat but accounted for only 1% of the total cells. FISH probes for the ANME-2a and ANME-2c subclusters were designed based on a comparative 16S rRNA analysis. In Hydrate Ridge sediments ANME-2a/DSS and ANME-2c/DSS aggregates differed significantly in morphology and abundance. The relative abundance values for these subgroups were remarkably different at Beggiatoa sites (80% ANME-2a, 20% ANME-2c) and Calyptogena sites (20% ANME-2a, 80% ANME-2c), indicating that there was preferential selection of the groups in the two habitats. These variations in the distribution, diversity, and morphology of methanotrophic consortia are discussed with respect to the presence of microbial ecotypes, niche formation, and biogeography.
We describe an approach to sort cells from coastal North Sea bacterioplankton by flow cytometry after in situ hybridization with rRNA-targeted horseradish peroxidase-labeled oligonucleotide probes and catalyzed fluorescent reporter deposition (CARD-FISH). In a sample from spring 2003 >90% of the cells were detected by CARD-FISH with a bacterial probe (EUB338). Approximately 30% of the microbial assemblage was affiliated with the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium lineage of the Bacteroidetes (CFB group) (probe CF319a), and almost 10% was targeted by a probe for the β-proteobacteria (probe BET42a). A protocol was optimized to detach cells hybridized with EUB338, BET42a, and CF319a from membrane filters (recovery rate, 70%) and to sort the cells by flow cytometry. The purity of sorted cells was >95%. 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed from hybridized and sorted cells (S-EUB, S-BET, and S-CF libraries) and from unhybridized and unsorted cells (UNHYB library). Sequences related to the CFB group were significantly more frequent in the S-CF library (66%) than in the UNHYB library (13%). No enrichment of β-proteobacterial sequence types was found in the S-BET library, but novel sequences related to Nitrosospira were found exclusively in this library. These bacteria, together with members of marine clade OM43, represented >90% of the β-proteobacteria in the water sample, as determined by CARD-FISH with specific probes. This illustrates that a combination of CARD-FISH and flow sorting might be a powerful approach to study the diversity and potentially the activity and the genomes of different bacterial populations in aquatic habitats.
We developed for Bacteria in environmental samples a sensitive and reliable mRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) protocol that allows for simultaneous cell identification by rRNA FISH. Samples were carbethoxylated with diethylpyrocarbonate to inactivate intracellular RNases and pretreated with lysozyme and/or proteinase K at different concentrations. Optimizing the permeabilization of each type of sample proved to be a critical step in avoiding false-negative or false-positive results. The quality of probes as well as a stringent hybridization temperature were determined with expression clones. To increase the sensitivity of mRNA FISH, long ribonucleotide probes were labeled at a high density with cis-platinum-linked digoxigenin (DIG). The hybrid was immunocytochemically detected with an anti-DIG antibody labeled with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Subsequently, the hybridization signal was amplified by catalyzed reporter deposition with fluorochrome-labeled tyramides. p-Iodophenylboronic acid and high concentrations of NaCl substantially enhanced the deposition of tyramides and thus increased the sensitivity of our approach. After inactivation of the antibody-delivered HRP, rRNA FISH was performed by following routine protocols. To show the broad applicability of our approach, mRNA of a key enzyme of aerobic methane oxidation, particulate methane monooxygenase (subunit A), was hybridized with different types of samples: pure cultures, symbionts of a hydrothermal vent bivalve, and even sediment, one of the most difficult sample types with which to perform successful FISH. By simultaneous mRNA FISH and rRNA FISH, single cells are identified and shown to express a particular gene. Our protocol is transferable to many different types of samples with the need for only minor modifications of fixation and permeabilization procedures.