Identifying the dominant metabolic strategies used by microorganisms within basalt-hosted, anoxic deep subsurface basement fluids via environmental genomics
Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:00 AM
A microbial ecosystem distinct from both overlying sediments and bottom seawater lies within the basaltic crust of the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank. The metabolic potential and genomic characteristics of microbes residing in fluids of this remote, anoxic region of the subsurface ocean were investigated using environmental DNA extracted from large-volume fluid samples obtained from advanced borehole observatories installed at two recently drilled IODP Boreholes, U1362A and U1362B. Fluids were collected from the deep (204 meters sub-basement) horizon of Borehole U1362A and shallow (40 meters sub-basement) horizon of Borehole U1362B and used to generate 503 and 705 million base-pairs of genomic DNA sequence data, respectively. Phylogenetically informative genes revealed that the community structure recovered via metagenomics was generally consistent with that obtained previously by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and was dominated by uncultivated bacterial lineages of Proteobacteria, Nitrospirae, Candidate Division OP8 (Aminicenantes), Thermotoga and archaeal groups THSCG, MCG (Bathyarchaeota), MBGE, and Archaeoglobus. Genes involved in phage integration, chemotaxis, nitrate reduction, methanogenesis, and amino acid degradation were all detected, revealing potentially dynamic microbial communities. Putative sulfate reduction genes were discovered within previously identified Firmicutes lineage Candidatus Desulforudis, along with other groups (e.g. Archaeoglobus). Significant metagenome assembly resulted in 72 and 105 contigs of >100 Kbp from U1362B and U1362A, respectively, including 1137, 977 and 356 Kbp-long contigs from Candidate Division OP8 residing in U1362B. These assemblies have revealed novel metabolic potential within abundant members of the deep subsurface microbial community, which can be directly related to their survival in the deep oceanic crust.