Metabolic Roles of Uncultivated Bacterioplankton Lineages in the Northern Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zone".
American Society for Microbiology
Copyright © 2017 Thrash et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Marine regions that have seasonal to long-term low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations, sometimes called "dead zones," are increasing in number and severity around the globe with deleterious effects on ecology and economics. One of the largest of these coastal dead zones occurs on the continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGOM), which results from eutrophication-enhanced bacterioplankton respiration and strong seasonal stratification. Previous research in this dead zone revealed the presence of multiple cosmopolitan bacterioplankton lineages that have eluded cultivation, and thus their metabolic roles in this ecosystem remain unknown. We used a coupled shotgun metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approach to determine the metabolic potential of Marine Group II Euryarchaeota, SAR406, and SAR202. We recovered multiple high-quality, nearly complete genomes from all three groups as well as candidate phyla usually associated with anoxic environments-Parcubacteria (OD1) and Peregrinibacteria Two additional groups with putative assignments to ACD39 and PAUC34f supplement the metabolic contributions by uncultivated taxa. Our results indicate active metabolism in all groups, including prevalent aerobic respiration, with concurrent expression of genes for nitrate reduction in SAR406 and SAR202, and dissimilatory nitrite reduction to ammonia and sulfur reduction by SAR406. We also report a variety of active heterotrophic carbon processing mechanisms, including degradation of complex carbohydrate compounds by SAR406, SAR202, ACD39, and PAUC34f. Together, these data help constrain the metabolic contributions from uncultivated groups in the nGOM during periods of low DO and suggest roles for these organisms in the breakdown of complex organic matter.IMPORTANCE Dead zones receive their name primarily from the reduction of eukaryotic macrobiota (demersal fish, shrimp, etc.) that are also key coastal fisheries. Excess nutrients contributed from anthropogenic activity such as fertilizer runoff result in algal blooms and therefore ample new carbon for aerobic microbial metabolism. Combined with strong stratification, microbial respiration reduces oxygen in shelf bottom waters to levels unfit for many animals (termed hypoxia). The nGOM shelf remains one of the largest eutrophication-driven hypoxic zones in the world, yet despite its potential as a model study system, the microbial metabolisms underlying and resulting from this phenomenon-many of which occur in bacterioplankton from poorly understood lineages-have received only preliminary study. Our work details the metabolic potential and gene expression activity for uncultivated lineages across several low DO sites in the nGOM, improving our understanding of the active biogeochemical cycling mediated by these "microbial dark matter" taxa during hypoxia.
This is the final version of the article. Available from American Society for Microbiology via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 8, e01017-17.
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