National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2022

Niche differentiation of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SUP05) in submarine hydrothermal plumes

Dede, B., C.T. Hansen, R. Neuholz, B. Schnetger, C. Kleint, S.L. Walker, W. Bach, R. Amann, and A. Meyerdierks

ISME J., 16(6), 1479–1490, doi: 10.1038/s41396-022-01195-x, View online (open access) (2022)

Hydrothermal plumes transport reduced chemical species and metals into the open ocean. Despite their considerable spatial scale and impact on biogeochemical cycles, niche differentiation of abundant microbial clades is poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the microbial ecology of two bathy- (Brothers volcano; BrV-cone and northwest caldera; NWC) and a mesopelagic (Macauley volcano; McV) plumes on the Kermadec intra-oceanic arc in the South Pacific Ocean. The microbial community structure, determined by a combination of 16S rRNA gene, fluorescence in situ hybridization and metagenome analysis, was similar to the communities observed in other sulfur-rich plumes. This includes a dominance of the vent characteristic SUP05 clade (up to 22% in McV and 51% in BrV). In each of the three plumes analyzed, the community was dominated by a different yet uncultivated chemoautotrophic SUP05 species, here, provisionally named, Candidatus Thioglobus vadi (McV), Candidatus Thioglobus vulcanius (BrV-cone) and Candidatus Thioglobus plumae (BrV-NWC). Statistical analyses, genomic potential and mRNA expression profiles suggested a SUP05 niche partitioning based on sulfide and iron concentration as well as water depth. A fourth SUP05 species was present at low frequency throughout investigated plume samples and may be capable of heterotrophic or mixotrophic growth. Taken together, we propose that small variations in environmental parameters and depth drive SUP05 niche partitioning in hydrothermal plumes.

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