NC10 Bacteria in a Marine Oxygen Minimum Zone
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Marine oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are key regions of nitrogen cycling and nitrogen loss as N2. The potential for methane cycling to influence OMZ nitrogen budgets remains largely unknown. The anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) coupled to nitrite or nitrate reduction has been shown to be a potential source of methane consumption, N loss, and oxygen production in freshwater sediments, but has not been described for marine pelagic environments. Nitrite-dependent AOM is performed by bacteria of the candidate division NC10 through an intra-aerobic pathway involving the dismutation of nitric oxide to O2 and N2. We explored the potential that NC10-like bacteria are present and active in the anoxic, nitrite-rich OMZ of the Eastern Tropical North Pacific. Community transcriptome sequencing confirmed the expression of genes with top matches to the NC10 bacterium 'Candidatus Methylomirabilis oxyfera.' NC10-like transcripts increased in relative abundance with depth into the anoxic OMZ core and included genes of aerobic methanotrophy and denitrification, as well as high numbers of transcripts matching norZ nitric oxide reductase, hypothesized to play a role in the O2-yielding dismutation reaction. Phylogenetic analysis of OMZ particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoA) and 16S rRNA gene sequences recovered by PCR revealed multiple clades of NC10 phylotypes in the OMZ. Preliminary data from OMZ enrichments revealed methane-dependent nitrite consumption, but further characterization is required to identify the pathways and organisms mediating this process. These findings expand the known environmental range of NC10 and suggest the possibility of previously uncharacterized linkages between OMZ nitrogen and methane cycles.