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Evidence of Vent-Adaptation in Sponges Living at the Periphery of Hydrothermal Vent Environments: Ecological and Evolutionary ImplicationsThe peripheral areas of deep-sea hydrothermal vents are often inhabited by an assemblage of animals distinct to those living close to vent chimneys. For many such taxa, it is considered that peak abundances in the vent periphery relate to the availability of hard substrate as well as the increased concentrations of organic matter generated at vents, compared to background areas. However, the peripheries of vents are less well-studied than the assemblages of vent-endemic taxa, and the mechanisms through which peripheral fauna may benefit from vent environments are generally unknown. Understanding this is crucial for evaluating the sphere of influence of hydrothermal vents and managing the impacts of future human activity within these environments, as well as offering insights into the processes of metazoan adaptation to vents. In this study, we explored the evolutionary histories, microbiomes and nutritional sources of two distantly-related sponge types living at the periphery of active hydrothermal vents in two different geological settings (Cladorhiza from the E2 vent site on the East Scotia Ridge, Southern Ocean, and Spinularia from the Endeavour vent site on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, North-East Pacific) to examine their relationship to nearby venting. Our results uncovered a close sister relationship between the majority of our E2 Cladorhiza specimens and the species Cladorhiza methanophila, known to harbor and obtain nutrition from methanotrophic symbionts at cold seeps. Our microbiome analyses demonstrated that both E2 Cladorhiza and Endeavour Spinularia sp. are associated with putative chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria, including Thioglobaceae (present in both sponge types) and Methylomonaceae (present in Spinularia sp.). These bacteria are closely related to chemoautotrophic symbionts of bathymodiolin mussels. Both vent-peripheral sponges demonstrate carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures consistent with contributions to nutrition from chemosynthesis. This study expands the number of known associations between metazoans and potentially chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria, indicating that they can be incredibly widespread and also occur away from the immediate vicinity of chemosynthetic environments in the vent-periphery, where these sponges may be adapted to benefit from dispersed vent fluids.
From the Surface to the Deep-Sea: Bacterial Distributions across Polymetallic Nodule Fields in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific OceanMarine bacteria regulate fluxes of matter and energy essential for pelagic and benthic organisms and may also be involved in the formation and maintenance of commercially valuable abyssal polymetallic nodules. Future mining of these nodule fields is predicted to have substantial effects on biodiversity and physicochemical conditions in mined areas. Yet, the identity and distributions of bacterial populations in deep-sea sediments and associated polymetallic nodules has received relatively little attention. We examined bacterial communities using high-throughput sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA gene fragments from samples collected in the water column, sediment, and polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean (bottom depth ≥4,000 m) in the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Operational taxonomic units (OTUs; defined at 99% 16S rRNA gene identity) affiliated with JTB255 (Gammaproteobacteria) and Rhodospirillaceae (Alphaproteobacteria) had higher relative abundances in the nodule and sediment habitats compared to the water column. Rhodobiaceae family and Vibrio OTUs had higher relative abundance in nodule samples, but were less abundant in sediment and water column samples. Bacterial communities in sediments and associated with nodules were generally similar; however, 5,861 and 6,827 OTUs found in the water column were retrieved from sediment and nodule habitats, respectively. Cyanobacterial OTUs clustering among Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus were detected in both sediments and nodules, with greater representation among nodule samples. Such results suggest that vertical export of typically abundant photic-zone microbes may be an important process in delivery of water column microorganisms to abyssal habitats, potentially influencing the structure and function of communities in polymetallic nodule fields.