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Science. 2015 Jul 24;349(6246):420-4. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa6882. Epub 2015 Jul 23.

DEEP BIOSPHERE. Exploring deep microbial life in coal-bearing sediment down to ~2.5 km below the ocean floor.

Author information

1
Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Nankoku, Kochi 783-8502, Japan. Research and Development Center for Marine Resources, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.
2
MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.
3
Center for Deep-Earth Exploration, JAMSTEC, Yokohama 236-0061, Japan. Research and Development Center for Ocean Drilling Science, JAMSTEC, Yokohama 236-0001, Japan.
4
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
5
Research and Development Center for Marine Resources, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan. Department of Subsurface Geobiological Analysis and Research, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.
6
Research and Development Center for Marine Resources, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan. Department of Biogeochemistry, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.
7
Center for Geomicrobiology, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
8
Department of Environmental Genomics, J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.
9
Geological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8567, Japan.
10
Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB2A 3UE, UK.
11
Department of Applied Geosciences and Geophysics, Montanuniversität, 8700 Leoben, Austria.
12
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
13
Environmental Management Research Institute, AIST, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8569, Japan.
14
The State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210093, China.
15
Center for Advanced Marine Core Research, Kochi University, Nankoku, Kochi 783-8502, Japan.
16
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
17
Petroleum and Marine Resources Research Division, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-350, Korea.
18
Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA.
19
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA.
20
Department of Earth Sciences, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.
21
Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA.
22
Department of Earth Science, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
23
School of Earth Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane Queensland 4072, Australia.
24
Department of Subsurface Geobiological Analysis and Research, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.
25
Marine Works Japan, Yokosuka 237-0063, Japan.
26
Department of Earth Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Chiba University, Chiba 263-8522, Japan.
27
Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
28
Research and Development Center for Ocean Drilling Science, JAMSTEC, Yokohama 236-0001, Japan. Department of Urban Management, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto 615-8540, Japan.

Abstract

Microbial life inhabits deeply buried marine sediments, but the extent of this vast ecosystem remains poorly constrained. Here we provide evidence for the existence of microbial communities in ~40° to 60°C sediment associated with lignite coal beds at ~1.5 to 2.5 km below the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean off Japan. Microbial methanogenesis was indicated by the isotopic compositions of methane and carbon dioxide, biomarkers, cultivation data, and gas compositions. Concentrations of indigenous microbial cells below 1.5 km ranged from <10 to ~10(4) cells cm(-3). Peak concentrations occurred in lignite layers, where communities differed markedly from shallower subseafloor communities and instead resembled organotrophic communities in forest soils. This suggests that terrigenous sediments retain indigenous community members tens of millions of years after burial in the seabed.

PMID:
26206933
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaa6882
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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