AbstractWe investigated microbial methane oxidation in the water column of two connected but hydrodynamically contrasting basins of Lake Lugano, Switzerland. Both basins accumulate large amounts of methane in the water column below their chemoclines, but methane oxidation efficiently prevents methane from reaching surface waters. Here we show that in the meromictic North Basin water column, a substantial fraction of methane was eliminated through anaerobic methane oxidation (AOM) coupled to nitrite reduction by Candidatus Methylomirabilis. Incubations with 14CH4 and concentrated biomass from this basin showed enhanced AOM rates with nitrate (+62%) and nitrite (+43%). In the more dynamic South Basin, however, aerobic methanotrophs prevailed, Ca. Methylomirabilis was absent in the anoxic water column, and no evidence was found for nitrite-dependent AOM. Here, the duration of seasonal stratification and anoxia seems to be too short, relative to the slow growth rate of Ca. Methylomirabilis, to allow for the establishment of anaerobic methanotrophs, in spite of favorable hydrochemical conditions. Using 16 S rRNA gene sequence data covering nearly ten years of community dynamics, we show that Ca. Methylomirabilis was a permanent element of the pelagic methane filter in the North Basin, which proliferated during periods of stable water column conditions and became the dominant methanotroph in the system. Conversely, more dynamic water column conditions led to a decline of Ca. Methylomirabilis and induced blooms of the faster-growing aerobic methanotrophs Methylobacter and Crenothrix. Our data highlight that physical (mixing) processes and ecosystem stability are key drivers controlling the community composition of aerobic and anaerobic methanotrophs.
AbstractCable bacteria of the Desulfobulbaceae family are centimeter-long filamentous bacteria, which are capable of conducting long-distance electron transfer. Currently, all cable bacteria are classified into two candidate genera: Candidatus Electronema, typically found in freshwater environments, and Candidatus Electrothrix, typically found in saltwater environments. This taxonomic framework is based on both 16S rRNA gene sequences and metagenome-assembled genome (MAG) phylogenies. However, most of the currently available MAGs are highly fragmented, incomplete, and thus likely miss key genes essential for deciphering the physiology of cable bacteria. Also, a closed, circular genome of cable bacteria has not been published yet. To address this, we performed Nanopore long-read and Illumina short-read shotgun sequencing of selected environmental samples and a single-strain enrichment of Ca. Electronema aureum. We recovered multiple cable bacteria MAGs, including two circular and one single-contig. Phylogenomic analysis, also confirmed by 16S rRNA gene-based phylogeny, classified one circular MAG and the single-contig MAG as novel species of cable bacteria, which we propose to name Ca. Electronema halotolerans and Ca. Electrothrix laxa, respectively. The Ca. Electronema halotolerans, despite belonging to the previously recognized freshwater genus of cable bacteria, was retrieved from brackish-water sediment. Metabolic predictions showed several adaptations to a high salinity environment, similar to the “saltwater” Ca. Electrothrix species, indicating how Ca. Electronema halotolerans may be the evolutionary link between marine and freshwater cable bacteria lineages.
AbstractThiovulum spp. (Campylobacterota) are large sulfur bacteria that form veil-like structures in aquatic environments. The sulfidic Movile Cave (Romania), sealed from the atmosphere for ~5 million years, has several aqueous chambers, some with low atmospheric O2 (~7%). The cave’s surface-water microbial community is dominated by bacteria we identified as Thiovulum. We show that this strain, and others from subsurface environments, are phylogenetically distinct from marine Thiovulum. We assembled a closed genome of the Movile strain and confirmed its metabolism using RNAseq. We compared the genome of this strain and one we assembled from public data from the sulfidic Frasassi caves to four marine genomes, including Candidatus Thiovulum karukerense and Ca. T. imperiosus, whose genomes we sequenced. Despite great spatial and temporal separation, the genomes of the Movile and Frasassi Thiovulum were highly similar, differing greatly from the very diverse marine strains. We concluded that cave Thiovulum represent a new species, named here Candidatus Thiovulum stygium. Based on their genomes, cave Thiovulum can switch between aerobic and anaerobic sulfide oxidation using O2 and NO3- as electron acceptors, the latter likely via dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia. Thus, Thiovulum is likely important to both S and N cycles in sulfidic caves. Electron microscopy analysis suggests that at least some of the short peritrichous structures typical of Thiovulum are type IV pili, for which genes were found in all strains. These pili may play a role in veil formation, by connecting adjacent cells, and in the motility of these exceptionally fast swimmers.
AbstractHydrothermal plumes transport reduced chemical species and metals into the open ocean. Despite their considerable spatial scale and impact on biogeochemical cycles, niche differentiation of abundant microbial clades is poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the microbial ecology of two bathy- (Brothers volcano; BrV-cone and northwest caldera; NWC) and a mesopelagic (Macauley volcano; McV) plumes on the Kermadec intra-oceanic arc in the South Pacific Ocean. The microbial community structure, determined by a combination of 16S rRNA gene, fluorescence in situ hybridization and metagenome analysis, was similar to the communities observed in other sulfur-rich plumes. This includes a dominance of the vent characteristic SUP05 clade (up to 22% in McV and 51% in BrV). In each of the three plumes analyzed, the community was dominated by a different yet uncultivated chemoautotrophic SUP05 species, here, provisionally named, Candidatus Thioglobus vadi (McV), Candidatus Thioglobus vulcanius (BrV-cone) and Candidatus Thioglobus plumae (BrV-NWC). Statistical analyses, genomic potential and mRNA expression profiles suggested a SUP05 niche partitioning based on sulfide and iron concentration as well as water depth. A fourth SUP05 species was present at low frequency throughout investigated plume samples and may be capable of heterotrophic or mixotrophic growth. Taken together, we propose that small variations in environmental parameters and depth drive SUP05 niche partitioning in hydrothermal plumes.
AbstractThe bacterial genus Tetrasphaera encompasses abundant polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs) that are responsible for enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) in wastewater treatment plants. Recent analyses of genomes from pure cultures revealed that 16S rRNA genes cannot resolve the lineage, and that Tetrasphaera spp. are from several different genera within the Dermatophilaceae. Here, we examine 14 recently recovered high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes from wastewater treatment plants containing full-length 16S rRNA genes identified as Tetrasphaera, 11 of which belong to the uncultured Tetrasphaera clade 3. We find that this clade represents two distinct genera, named here Ca. Phosphoribacter and Ca. Lutibacillus, and reveal that the widely used model organism Tetrasphaera elongata is less relevant for physiological predictions of this uncultured group. Ca. Phosphoribacter incorporates species diversity unresolved at the 16S rRNA gene level, with the two most abundant and often co-occurring species encoding identical V1-V3 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequence variants but different metabolic capabilities, and possibly, niches. Both Ca. P. hodrii and Ca. P. baldrii were visualised using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), and PAO capabilities were confirmed with FISH-Raman microspectroscopy and phosphate cycling experiments. Ca. Phosphoribacter represents the most abundant former Tetrasphaera lineage and PAO in EPBR systems in Denmark and globally.
AbstractNiche concept is a core tenet of ecology that has recently been applied in marine microbial research to describe the partitioning of taxa based either on adaptations to specific conditions across environments or on adaptations to specialised substrates. In this study, we combine spatiotemporal dynamics and predicted substrate utilisation to describe species-level niche partitioning within the NS5 Marine Group. Despite NS5 representing one of the most abundant marine flavobacterial clades from across the world’s oceans, our knowledge on their phylogenetic diversity and ecological functions is limited. Using novel and database-derived 16S rRNA gene and ribosomal protein sequences, we delineate the NS5 into 35 distinct species-level clusters, contained within four novel candidate genera. One candidate species, “Arcticimaribacter forsetii AHE01FL”, includes a novel cultured isolate, for which we provide a complete genome sequence—the first of an NS5—along with morphological insights using transmission electron microscopy. Assessing species’ spatial distribution dynamics across the Tara Oceans dataset, we identify depth as a key influencing factor, with 32 species preferring surface waters, as well as distinct patterns in relation to temperature, oxygen and salinity. Each species harbours a unique substrate-degradation potential along with predicted substrates conserved at the genus-level, e.g. alginate in NS5_F. Successional dynamics were observed for three species in a time-series dataset, likely driven by specialised substrate adaptations. We propose that the ecological niche partitioning of NS5 species is mainly based on specific abiotic factors, which define the niche space, and substrate availability that drive the species-specific temporal dynamics.
AbstractMarine algae annually sequester petagrams of carbon dioxide into polysaccharides, which are a central metabolic fuel for marine carbon cycling. Diatom microalgae produce sulfated polysaccharides containing methyl pentoses that are challenging to degrade for bacteria compared to other monomers, implicating these sugars as a potential carbon sink. Free-living bacteria occurring in phytoplankton blooms that specialise on consuming microalgal sugars, containing fucose and rhamnose remain unknown. Here, genomic and proteomic data indicate that small, coccoid, free-living Verrucomicrobiota specialise in fucose and rhamnose consumption during spring algal blooms in the North Sea. Verrucomicrobiota cell abundance was coupled with the algae bloom onset and accounted for up to 8% of the bacterioplankton. Glycoside hydrolases, sulfatases, and bacterial microcompartments, critical proteins for the consumption of fucosylated and sulfated polysaccharides, were actively expressed during consecutive spring bloom events. These specialised pathways were assigned to novel and discrete candidate species of the Akkermansiaceae and Puniceicoccaceae families, which we here describe as Candidatus Mariakkermansia forsetii and Candidatus Fucivorax forsetii. Moreover, our results suggest specialised metabolic pathways could determine the fate of complex polysaccharides consumed during algae blooms. Thus the sequestration of phytoplankton organic matter via methyl pentose sugars likely depend on the activity of specialised Verrucomicrobiota populations.
AbstractAcidobacteriota are widespread and often abundant in marine sediments, yet their metabolic and ecological properties are poorly understood. Here, we examined metabolisms and distributions of Acidobacteriota in marine sediments of Svalbard by functional predictions from metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA and dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrB) genes and transcripts, and gene expression analyses of tetrathionate-amended microcosms. Acidobacteriota were the second most abundant dsrB-harboring (averaging 13%) phylum after Desulfobacterota in Svalbard sediments, and represented 4% of dsrB transcripts on average. Meta-analysis of dsrAB datasets also showed Acidobacteriota dsrAB sequences are prominent in marine sediments worldwide, averaging 15% of all sequences analysed, and represent most of the previously unclassified dsrAB in marine sediments. We propose two new Acidobacteriota genera, Candidatus Sulfomarinibacter (class Thermoanaerobaculia, “subdivision 23”) and Ca. Polarisedimenticola (“subdivision 22”), with distinct genetic properties that may explain their distributions in biogeochemically distinct sediments. Ca. Sulfomarinibacter encode flexible respiratory routes, with potential for oxygen, nitrous oxide, metal-oxide, tetrathionate, sulfur and sulfite/sulfate respiration, and possibly sulfur disproportionation. Potential nutrients and energy include cellulose, proteins, cyanophycin, hydrogen, and acetate. A Ca. Polarisedimenticola MAG encodes various enzymes to degrade proteins, and to reduce oxygen, nitrate, sulfur/polysulfide and metal-oxides. 16S rRNA gene and transcript profiling of Svalbard sediments showed Ca. Sulfomarinibacter members were relatively abundant and transcriptionally active in sulfidic fjord sediments, while Ca. Polarisedimenticola members were more relatively abundant in metal-rich fjord sediments. Overall, we reveal various physiological features of uncultured marine Acidobacteriota that indicate fundamental roles in seafloor biogeochemical cycling.
AbstractThe symbiont “Candidatus Aquarickettsia rohweri” infects a diversity of aquatic hosts. In the threatened Caribbean coral, Acropora cervicornis, Aquarickettsia proliferates in response to increased nutrient exposure, resulting in suppressed growth and increased disease susceptibility and mortality of coral. This study evaluated the extent, as well as the ecology and evolution of Aquarickettsia infecting threatened corals, Ac. cervicornis, and Ac. palmata and their hybrid (“Ac. prolifera”). Aquarickettsia was found in all acroporids, with coral host and geographic location impacting the infection magnitude. Phylogenomic and genome-wide single-nucleotide variant analysis of Aquarickettsia found phylogenetic clustering by geographic region, not by coral taxon. Analysis of Aquarickettsia fixation indices suggests multiple sequential infections of the same coral colony are unlikely. Furthermore, relative to other Rickettsiales species, Aquarickettsia is undergoing positive selection, with Florida populations experiencing greater positive selection relative to other Caribbean locations. This may be due in part to Aquarickettsia proliferating in response to greater nutrient stress in Florida, as indicated by greater in situ replication rates in these corals. Aquarickettsia was not found to significantly codiversify with either the coral animal or the coral’s algal symbiont (Symbiodinium “fitti”). Quantitative PCR analysis showed that gametes, larvae, recruits, and juveniles from susceptible, captive-reared coral genets were not infected with Aquarickettsia. Thus, horizontal transmission of Aquarickettsia via coral mucocytes or an unidentified host is more likely. The prevalence of Aquarickettsia in Ac. cervicornis and its high abundance in the Florida coral population suggests that coral disease mitigation efforts focus on preventing early infection via horizontal transmission.