Testing the Role of Microbial Ecology, Redox-Mediated Deep Water Production and Hypersalinity on TEX86: Lipids and 16s Sequences from Archaea and Bacteria in the Water Column and Sediments of Orca Basin
Abstract:Mesophilic marine archaea and bacteria are known to substantially contribute to the oceanic microbial biomass and play critical roles in global carbon, nitrogen and nutrient cycles. The Orca Basin, a 2400 meter deep bathymetric depression on the continental slope of the north-central Gulf of Mexico, is an ideal environment to examine how redox-dependent biochemical processes control the input and cycling of bacterial and archaea-derived lipid compounds from formation in near-surface water, through secondary recycling processes operating at the redox-transition in the water column, to sedimentary diagenetic processes operating in oxic to anoxic zones within the basin. The lowermost 180 meters of the Orca Basin is characterized by an anoxic, hypersaline brine that is separated from the overlying oxic seawater by a well-defined redox sequence associated with a systematic increasing in salinity from 35 – 250‰. While surface water conditions are viewed as normal marine with a seasonally productive water column, the sub-oxic to anoxic transition zones within the deep-water column and the sediment spans over 200 m allowing the unique opportunity for discrete sampling of resident organisms and lipids.
Here we present 16s rRNA sequence data of Bacteria and Archaea collected parallel to GDGT lipid profiles and in situ environmental measurements from the sediment and overlying water column in the intermediate zone of the basin, where movements of chemical transition zones are preserved. We evaluated GDGTs and corresponding taxa across the surface water, chlorophyll maximum, thermocline, and the deep redox boundary, including oxygenation, denitrification, manganese, iron and sulfate reduction zones, to determine if GDGTs are being produced under these conditions and how surface-derived GDGT lipids and the TEX86 signal may be altered. The results have implications for the application of the TEX86 paleotemperature proxy.