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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 Jul;65(1):15-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00507.x. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

Geomicrobial characterization of gas hydrate-bearing sediments along the mid-Chilean margin.

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Marine Biogeochemistry Section, Code 6114, US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 22375, USA.


Bacterial diversity in eight sediment cores from the mid-Chilean margin was studied using length heterogeneity (LH)-PCR, and described in relation to in situ geochemical conditions. DNA from the sulfate-methane transition (SMT) of three cores [one containing methane gas; two proximal to a gas hydrate mound (GHM)] was cloned and sequenced. Clones related to uncultured relatives of Desulfosarcina variabilis were found in all clone libraries and dominated one. Desulfosarcina variabilis related clones were similar to phylotypes observed at the SMT in association with anaerobic methane oxidation in the Eel River basin, Cascadia margin and the Gulf of Mexico. The LH-PCR amplicon associated with D. variabilis clones matched the amplicon that dominated most SMT samples, indicating environmental selection for D. variabilis relatives. Clones related to the Verrucomicrobia dominated the library for the methane gas-containing core. Uncultured Treponema relatives dominated the library for the core obtained on the edge of a GHM. Statistical analysis using geochemical data to describe variance in LH-PCR data revealed that stable carbon isotope ratios of dissolved inorganic carbon are the principal structuring factor on SMT communities. These data suggest that D. variabilis relatives are involved in anaerobic oxidation of methane at the SMT in Chilean margin sediments.

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