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Front Microbiol. 2015 Dec 23;6:1470. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01470. eCollection 2015.

Microbial Communities on Seafloor Basalts at Dorado Outcrop Reflect Level of Alteration and Highlight Global Lithic Clades.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA, USA; Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station, TX, USA.
3
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences East Boothbay, ME, USA.

Abstract

Areas of exposed basalt along mid-ocean ridges and at seafloor outcrops serve as conduits of fluid flux into and out of a subsurface ocean, and microbe-mineral interactions can influence alteration reactions at the rock-water interface. Located on the eastern flank of the East Pacific Rise, Dorado Outcrop is a site of low-temperature (<20°C) hydrothermal venting and represents a new end-member in the current survey of seafloor basalt biomes. Consistent with prior studies, a survey of 16S rRNA gene sequence diversity using universal primers targeting the V4 hypervariable region revealed much greater richness and diversity on the seafloor rocks than in surrounding seawater. Overall, Gamma-, Alpha-, and Deltaproteobacteria, and Thaumarchaeota dominated the sequenced communities, together making up over half of the observed diversity, though bacterial sequences were more abundant than archaeal in all samples. The most abundant bacterial reads were closely related to the obligate chemolithoautotrophic, sulfur-oxidizing Thioprofundum lithotrophicum, suggesting carbon and sulfur cycling as dominant metabolic pathways in this system. Representatives of Thaumarchaeota were detected in relatively high abundance on the basalts in comparison to bottom water, possibly indicating ammonia oxidation. In comparison to other sequence datasets from globally distributed seafloor basalts, this study reveals many overlapping and cosmopolitan phylogenetic groups and also suggests that substrate age correlates with community structure.

KEYWORDS:

basalt; biogeography; geomicrobiology; microbe–mineral interactions; oceanic crust

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