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Journal Article

Degradation of biological macromolecules supports uncultured microbial populations in Guaymas Basin hydrothermal sediments


Hrabe de Angelis,  Isabella
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Castro, S. P., Borton, M. A., Regan, K., Hrabe de Angelis, I., Wrighton, K. C., Teske, A. P., et al. (2021). Degradation of biological macromolecules supports uncultured microbial populations in Guaymas Basin hydrothermal sediments. The ISME Journal, 15. doi:10.1038/s41396-021-01026-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-D770-7
Hydrothermal sediments contain large numbers of uncultured heterotrophic microbial lineages. Here, we amended Guaymas Basin sediments with proteins, polysaccharides, nucleic acids or lipids under different redox conditions and cultivated heterotrophic thermophiles with the genomic potential for macromolecule degradation. We reconstructed 20 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of uncultured lineages affiliating with known archaeal and bacterial phyla, including endospore-forming Bacilli and candidate phylum Marinisomatota. One Marinisomatota MAG had 35 different glycoside hydrolases often in multiple copies, seven extracellular CAZymes, six polysaccharide lyases, and multiple sugar transporters. This population has the potential to degrade a broad spectrum of polysaccharides including chitin, cellulose, pectin, alginate, chondroitin, and carrageenan. We also describe thermophiles affiliating with the genera Thermosyntropha, Thermovirga, and Kosmotoga with the capability to make a living on nucleic acids, lipids, or multiple macromolecule classes, respectively. Several populations seemed to lack extracellular enzyme machinery and thus likely scavenged oligo- or monomers (e.g., MAGs affiliating with Archaeoglobus) or metabolic products like hydrogen (e.g., MAGs affiliating with Thermodesulfobacterium or Desulforudaceae). The growth of methanogens or the production of methane was not observed in any condition, indicating that the tested macromolecules are not degraded into substrates for methanogenesis in hydrothermal sediments. We provide new insights into the niches, and genomes of microorganisms that actively degrade abundant necromass macromolecules under oxic, sulfate-reducing, and fermentative thermophilic conditions. These findings improve our understanding of the carbon flow across trophic levels and indicate how primary produced biomass sustains complex and productive ecosystems.