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Journal Article

Microbial communities of Auka hydrothermal sediments shed light on vent biogeography and the evolutionary history of thermophily


Speth,  Daan R.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Speth, D. R., Yu, F. B., Connon, S. A., Lim, S., Magyar, J. S., Pena-Salinas, M. E., et al. (2022). Microbial communities of Auka hydrothermal sediments shed light on vent biogeography and the evolutionary history of thermophily. ISME JOURNAL, 16(7), 1750-1764. doi:10.1038/s41396-022-01222-x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-76F3-D
Hydrothermal vents have been key to our understanding of the limits of life, and the metabolic and phylogenetic diversity of thermophilic organisms. Here we used environmental metagenomics combined with analysis of physicochemical data and 16S rRNA gene amplicons to characterize the sediment-hosted microorganisms at the recently discovered Auka vents in the Gulf of California. We recovered 325 metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) representing 54 phyla, over 30% of those currently known, showing the microbial community in Auka hydrothermal sediments is highly diverse. 16S rRNA gene amplicon screening of 224 sediment samples across the vent field indicates that the MAGs retrieved from a single site are representative of the microbial community in the vent field sediments. Metabolic reconstruction of a vent-specific, deeply branching clade within the Desulfobacterota suggests these organisms metabolize sulfur using novel octaheme cytochrome-c proteins related to hydroxylamine oxidoreductase. Community-wide comparison between Auka MAGs and MAGs from Guaymas Basin revealed a remarkable 20% species-level overlap, suggestive of long-distance species transfer over 400 km and subsequent sediment colonization. Optimal growth temperature prediction on the Auka MAGs, and thousands of reference genomes, shows that thermophily is a trait that has evolved frequently. Taken together, our Auka vent field results offer new perspectives on our understanding of hydrothermal vent microbiology.