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Endemic hydrothermal vent species identified in the open ocean seed bank

Abstract

Hydrothermal vent systems host microbial communities among which several microorganisms have been considered endemic to this type of habitat. It is still unclear how these organisms colonize geographically distant hydrothermal environments. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, we compare the bacterial communities of sixteen Atlantic hydrothermal vent samples with our own and publicly available global open ocean samples. Analysing sequences obtained from 63 million 16S rRNA genes, the genera we could identify in the open ocean waters contained 99.9% of the vent reads. This suggests that previously observed vent exclusiveness is, in most cases, probably an artefact of lower sequencing depth. These findings are a further step towards elucidating the role of the open ocean as a seed bank. They can explain the predicament of how species expected to be endemic to vent systems are able to colonize geographically distant hydrothermal habitats and contribute to our understanding of whether ‘everything is really everywhere’.

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Figure 1: Percentage of the number and total counts of vent OTUs shared with our southern deep-sea Atlantic Ocean sample.
Figure 2: Prochlorococcus OTUs exhibiting significantly different relative abundances in distinct habitat types.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the captain and crews of the research vessels and ROV Kiel6000 (GEOMAR, Kiel) for helping us to obtain deep-sea vent samples. The authors also thank H. Strauss for providing data on hydrogen sulfide and M. Alawi for discussions regarding the sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. The work was supported by grants from priority programme 1144 ‘From Mantle to Ocean: Energy-, Material- and Life-cycles at Spreading Axes’ of the German Science Foundation (DFG). S.B. was funded by grant no. DFG PE 1549-6/1.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

M.P. designed the research project, planned the sequencing and wrote the paper. G.G. co-planned the sequencing, performed bioinformatics and statistical analyses and wrote the paper. S.B. performed experiments. D.I. performed sequencing. D.G.-S. contributed fluid elemental compositions and geochemical data. R.S. measured hydrogen and methane concentrations. C.M. performed tidal measurements. S.K. advised on the bioinformatics analyses and wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mirjam Perner.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary Results and Discussion 1-4, Supplementary Figures 1-6, Supplementary Tables 1-4, Supplementary Table legends 5-10, and Supplementary References (PDF 896 kb)

Supplementary Table 5

Genera shared between hydrothermal vent and open ocean samples. (XLSX 190 kb)

Supplementary Table 6

Open-reference based OTUs shared between hydrothermal vent and open ocean samples. (XLSX 1109 kb)

Supplementary Table 7

Environmental parameters of the different samples used for correlation analyses. (XLSX 14 kb)

Supplementary Table 8

Spearman correlations for the different sites between environmental parameters and bacterial classes. (XLSX 31 kb)

Supplementary Table 9

Spearman correlations for the different sites between environmental parameters and bacterial genera. (XLSX 78 kb)

Supplementary Table 10

Spearman correlations for the different sites between environmental parameters and bacterial OTUs. (XLSX 2668 kb)

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Gonnella, G., Böhnke, S., Indenbirken, D. et al. Endemic hydrothermal vent species identified in the open ocean seed bank. Nat Microbiol 1, 16086 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.86

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