Diversity and Biogeography of Bathyal and Abyssal Seafloor Bacteria

Antje.Boetius [ at ] awi.de


The deep ocean floor covers more than 60% of the Earth’s surface, and hosts diverse bacterial communities with important functions in carbon and nutrient cycles. The identification of key bacterial members remains a challenge and their patterns of distribution in seafloor sediment yet remain poorly described. Previous studies were either regionally restricted or included few deep-sea sediments, and did not specifically test biogeographic patterns across the vast oligotrophic bathyal and abyssal seafloor. Here we define the composition of this deep seafloor microbiome by describing those bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTU) that are specifically associated with deep-sea surface sediments at water depths ranging from 1000–5300 m. We show that the microbiome of the surface seafloor is distinct from the subsurface seafloor. The cosmopolitan bacterial OTU were affiliated with the clades JTB255 (class Gammaproteobacteria, order Xanthomonadales) and OM1 (Actinobacteria, order Acidimicrobiales), comprising 21% and 7% of their respective clades, and about 1% of all sequences in the study. Overall, few sequence-abundant bacterial types were globally dispersed and displayed positive range-abundance relationships. Most bacterial populations were rare and exhibited a high degree of endemism, explaining the substantial differences in community composition observed over large spatial scales. Despite the relative physicochemical uniformity of deep-sea sediments, we identified indicators of productivity regimes, especially sediment organic matter content, as factors significantly associated with changes in bacterial community structure across the globe.

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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0148016

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Bienhold, C. , Zinger, L. , Boetius, A. and Ramette, A. (2016): Diversity and Biogeography of Bathyal and Abyssal Seafloor Bacteria , PLoS ONE . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148016



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