Community Structure of Archaea in the Water Column Above Gas Hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico


Bin Liu, Guangbin Ye, Fengpin Wang, Ryan Bell, John Noakes, Tim Short & Chuanlun L. Zhang (2009) Community Structure of Archaea in the Water Column above Gas Hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico, Geomicrobiology Journal, 26:6, 363-369, DOI: 10.1080/01490450902929290


Microorganisms play fundamental roles in the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), yet their vertical distributions along the depth continuum of water column are not well known. In this study, we presented the 16S rDNA sequences and lipid profiles in the context of water chemistry to characterize the archaeal community structure above a gas hydrate mound (MC 118) in GOM. Our results showed that all archaeal sequences were related to unknown species of Crenarchaeota or Euryarchaeota. Phylogenetically, group II –β Euryarchaeota dominated the surface water and mid-depth (400-m) water (74% and 58% of total archaeal species, respectively) whereas the marine group I-γ Crenarchaeota dominated the bottom (869 m) water (61% of total archaeal species). Estimates of the Shannon index showed the highest diversity of planktonic Archaea at the 400 m depth. Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) lipids were detected from the 400- and 869-m depths only and characterized by relatively high abundances of GDGT-5 (crenarchaeol) and GDGT-0. Our studies suggested a possible zonation of archaeal community in the water column, which did not seem to be affected by the possible venting of hydrocarbons from the hydrate location in GOM.

Keywords: Archaea, GDGTs, Gulf of Mexico, 16S rRNA gene clone libraries, water column

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