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Science. 2009 Oct 23;326(5952):578-82. doi: 10.1126/science.1175309.

Metagenome of a versatile chemolithoautotroph from expanding oceanic dead zones.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.

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  • Science. 2010 Apr 30;328(5978):569.


Oxygen minimum zones, also known as oceanic "dead zones," are widespread oceanographic features currently expanding because of global warming. Although inhospitable to metazoan life, they support a cryptic microbiota whose metabolic activities affect nutrient and trace gas cycling within the global ocean. Here, we report metagenomic analyses of a ubiquitous and abundant but uncultivated oxygen minimum zone microbe (SUP05) related to chemoautotrophic gill symbionts of deep-sea clams and mussels. The SUP05 metagenome harbors a versatile repertoire of genes mediating autotrophic carbon assimilation, sulfur oxidation, and nitrate respiration responsive to a wide range of water-column redox states. Our analysis provides a genomic foundation for understanding the ecological and biogeochemical role of pelagic SUP05 in oxygen-deficient oceanic waters and its potential sensitivity to environmental changes.

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