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1.  Quantitative and phylogenetic study of the Deep Sea Archaeal Group in sediments of the Arctic mid-ocean spreading ridge 
In marine sediments archaea often constitute a considerable part of the microbial community, of which the Deep Sea Archaeal Group (DSAG) is one of the most predominant. Despite their high abundance no members from this archaeal group have so far been characterized and thus their metabolism is unknown. Here we show that the relative abundance of DSAG marker genes can be correlated with geochemical parameters, allowing prediction of both the potential electron donors and acceptors of these organisms. We estimated the abundance of 16S rRNA genes from Archaea, Bacteria, and DSAG in 52 sediment horizons from two cores collected at the slow-spreading Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge, using qPCR. The results indicate that members of the DSAG make up the entire archaeal population in certain horizons and constitute up to ~50% of the total microbial community. The quantitative data were correlated to 30 different geophysical and geochemical parameters obtained from the same sediment horizons. We observed a significant correlation between the relative abundance of DSAG 16S rRNA genes and the content of organic carbon (p < 0.0001). Further, significant co-variation with iron oxide, and dissolved iron and manganese (all p < 0.0000), indicated a direct or indirect link to iron and manganese cycling. Neither of these parameters correlated with the relative abundance of archaeal or bacterial 16S rRNA genes, nor did any other major electron donor or acceptor measured. Phylogenetic analysis of DSAG 16S rRNA gene sequences reveals three monophyletic lineages with no apparent habitat-specific distribution. In this study we support the hypothesis that members of the DSAG are tightly linked to the content of organic carbon and directly or indirectly involved in the cycling of iron and/or manganese compounds. Further, we provide a molecular tool to assess their abundance in environmental samples and enrichment cultures.
PMCID: PMC3790079  PMID: 24109477
Deep Sea Archaeal Group; Marine Benthic Group B; qPCR; deep-sea sediment; geochemistry; iron reduction; manganese reduction; geochemical correlation
2.  The Potential for Low-Temperature Abiotic Hydrogen Generation and a Hydrogen-Driven Deep Biosphere 
Astrobiology  2011;11(7):711-724.
The release and oxidation of ferrous iron during aqueous alteration of the mineral olivine is known to reduce aqueous solutions to such extent that molecular hydrogen, H2, forms. H2 is an efficient energy carrier and is considered basal to the deep subsurface biosphere. Knowledge of the potential for H2 generation is therefore vital to understanding the deep biosphere on Earth and on extraterrestrial bodies.
Here, we provide a review of factors that may reduce the potential for H2 generation with a focus on systems in the core temperature region for thermophilic to hyperthermophilic microbial life. We show that aqueous sulfate may inhibit the formation of H2, whereas redox-sensitive compounds of carbon and nitrogen are unlikely to have significant effect at low temperatures. In addition, we suggest that the rate of H2 generation is proportional to the dissolution rate of olivine and, hence, limited by factors such as reactive surface areas and the access of water to fresh surfaces. We furthermore suggest that the availability of water and pore/fracture space are the most important factors that limit the generation of H2. Our study implies that, because of large heat flows, abundant olivine-bearing rocks, large thermodynamic gradients, and reduced atmospheres, young Earth and Mars probably offered abundant systems where microbial life could possibly have emerged. Key Words: Serpentinization—Olivine—Hydrogen—Deep biosphere—Water—Mars. Astrobiology 11, 711–724.
PMCID: PMC3176347  PMID: 21923409
3.  Discovery of a black smoker vent field and vent fauna at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge 
Nature Communications  2010;1:126-.
The Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge (AMOR) represents one of the most slow-spreading ridge systems on Earth. Previous attempts to locate hydrothermal vent fields and unravel the nature of venting, as well as the provenance of vent fauna at this northern and insular termination of the global ridge system, have been unsuccessful. Here, we report the first discovery of a black smoker vent field at the AMOR. The field is located on the crest of an axial volcanic ridge (AVR) and is associated with an unusually large hydrothermal deposit, which documents that extensive venting and long-lived hydrothermal systems exist at ultraslow-spreading ridges, despite their strongly reduced volcanic activity. The vent field hosts a distinct vent fauna that differs from the fauna to the south along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The novel vent fauna seems to have developed by local specialization and by migration of fauna from cold seeps and the Pacific.
The Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge spreads extremely slowly and hydrothermal vent fields have not been reported in its vicinity. Pedersen et al. describe a black smoker vent field with large hydrothermal deposits and novel fauna distinct from those found in similar environments in the Atlantic.
PMCID: PMC3060606  PMID: 21119639

Results 1-3 (3)