Ultra-diffuse hydrothermal venting supports Fe-oxidizing bacteria and massive umber deposition at 5000 m off Hawaii
Edwards, Katrina J.
Glazer, Brian T.
Rouxel, Olivier J.
Toner, Brandy M.
Chan, Clara S.
Tebo, Bradley M.
Moyer, Craig L.
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A novel hydrothermal field has been discovered at the base of Lōihi Seamount, Hawaii, at 5000 mbsl. Geochemical analyses demonstrate that ‘FeMO Deep’, while only 0.2 °C above ambient seawater temperature, derives from a distal, ultra-diffuse hydrothermal source. FeMO Deep is expressed as regional seafloor seepage of gelatinous iron- and silica-rich deposits, pooling between and over basalt pillows, in places over a meter thick. The system is capped by mm to cm thick hydrothermally derived iron-oxyhydroxide- and manganese-oxide-layered crusts. We use molecular analyses (16S rDNA-based) of extant communities combined with fluorescent in situ hybridizations to demonstrate that FeMO Deep deposits contain living iron-oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria related to the recently isolated strain Mariprofundus ferroxydans. Bioenergetic calculations, based on in-situ electrochemical measurements and cell counts, indicate that reactions between iron and oxygen are important in supporting chemosynthesis in the mats, which we infer forms a trophic base of the mat ecosystem. We suggest that the biogenic FeMO Deep hydrothermal deposit represents a modern analog for one class of geological iron deposits known as ‘umbers’ (for example, Troodos ophilolites, Cyprus) because of striking similarities in size, setting and internal structures.
© International Society for Microbial Ecology, 2011. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in The ISME Journal 5 (2011): 1748–1758, doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.48.
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