Journal Article Atribacteria from the Subseafloor Sedimentary Biosphere Disperse to the Hydrosphere through Submarine Mud Volcanoes

Hoshino, Tatsuhiko  ,  Toki, Tomohiro  ,  Ijiri, Akira  ,  Morono, Yuki  ,  Machiyama, Hideaki  ,  Ashi, Juichiro  ,  Okamura, Kei  ,  Inagaki, Fumio

8p.1135 , 2017-06-20 , Frontiers Media
Submarine mud volcanoes (SMVs) are formed by muddy sediments and breccias extruded to the seafloor from a source in the deep subseafloor and are characterized by the discharge of methane and other hydrocarbon gasses and deep-sourced fluids into the overlying seawater. Although SMVs act as a natural pipeline connecting the Earth’s surface and subsurface biospheres, the dispersal of deep-biosphere microorganisms and their ecological roles remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the microbial communities in sediment and overlying seawater at two SMVs located on the Ryukyu Trench off Tanegashima Island, southern Japan. The microbial communities in mud volcano sediments were generally distinct from those in the overlying seawaters and in the well-stratified Pacific margin sediments collected at the Peru Margin, the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank off Oregon, and offshore of Shimokita Peninsula, northeastern Japan. Nevertheless, in-depth analysis of different taxonomic groups at the sub-species level revealed that the taxon affiliated with Atribacteria, heterotrophic anaerobic bacteria that typically occur in organic-rich anoxic subseafloor sediments, were commonly found not only in SMV sediments but also in the overlying seawater. We designed a new oligonucleotide probe for detecting Atribacteria using the catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH). CARD-FISH, digital PCR and sequencing analysis of 16S rRNA genes consistently showed that Atribacteria are abundant in the methane plumes of the two SMVs (0.58 and 1.5 × 104 cells/mL, respectively) but not in surrounding waters, suggesting that microbial cells in subseafloor sediments are dispersed as “deep-biosphere seeds” into the ocean. These findings may have important implications for the microbial transmigration between the deep subseafloor biosphere and the hydrosphere.

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