High CO2 subsurface environment enriches for novel microbial lineages capable of autotrophic carbon fixation
Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 13:55
2008 (Moscone West)
Subsurface environments span the planet but remain little understood from the perspective of the capacity of the resident organisms to fix CO2. Here we investigated the autotrophic capacity of microbial communities in range of a high-CO2 subsurface environments via analysis of 250 near-complete microbial genomes (151 of them from distinct species) that represent the most abundant organisms over a subsurface depth transect. More than one third of the genomes belonged to the so-called candidate phyla radiation (CPR), which have limited metabolic capabilities. Approximately 30% of the community members are autotrophs that comprise 70% of the microbiome with metabolism likely supported by sulfur and nitrogen respiration. Of the carbon fixation pathways, the Calvin Benson Basham Cycle was most common, but the Wood-Ljungdhal pathway was present in the greatest phylogenetic diversity of organisms. Unexpectedly, one organism from a novel phylum sibling to the CPR is predicted to fix carbon by the reverse TCA cycle. The genome of the most abundant organism, an archaeon designated “Candidatus Altiarchaeum hamiconexum”, was also found in subsurface samples from other continents including Europe and Asia. The archaeon was proven to be a carbon fixer using a novel reductive acetyl-CoA pathway. These results provide evidence that carbon dioxide is the major carbon source in these environments and suggest that autotrophy in the subsurface represents a substantial carbon dioxide sink affecting the global carbon cycle.