Single cell visualization of sulfur cycling in intertidal microbial mats

Friday, 19 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Katherine Dawson, Abigail Green and Victoria J Orphan, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Chemoautrophic microbial mats form in shallow intertidal pools adjacent to sulfidic hydrothermal vents in San Pedro, CA. Sulfide is primarily geologically derived. However, microscopy revealed deltaproteobacteria closely associated with Beggiatoa -like filaments, indicating an additional biogenic sulfide source, derived from sulfate reduction or sulfur disproportionation. At small scales the intercellular interaction of sulfide producing and sulfide consuming bacteria may play a important role in biogeochemical sulfur cycling. We explored the intracellular transfer of biologically derived sulfide in this system with triple and quadruple stable isotope labeling experiments: 13C, 15N, 33S, and 34S. Silicon wafers colonized by microbial mats in situ, were then incubated with 34SO42- or 34SO42- and 33S0 as well as 13C-acetate and 15NH4+and analyzed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) coupled to nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). We observed enrichment of 34S and 33S in both deltaproteobacteria and sulfide oxidizing gammaproteobacteria. Greater enrichment relative to killed controls occurred in deltaproteobacteria than the sulfide oxidizers during both sulfate reducing (Δ34Sdelta-killed = 240‰, Δ34Sgamma-killed = 40‰) and sulfur disproportionating incubations (Δ33Sdelta-killed = 1730‰, Δ33Sgamma-killed = 1050‰). These results provide a direct visualization of interspecies sulfur transfer and indicate that biogenic sulfide derived from either sulfate or intermediate oxidation state sulfur species plays a role in sulfur cycling in this system.