Gene expression in the deep biosphere
Orsi, William D.
Edgcomb, Virginia P.
Christman, Glenn D.
Biddle, Jennifer F.
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KeywordMarine subsurface; mRNA; Metatranscriptomics; Deep biosphere; Illumina sequencing; Marine sediment; Subseafloor; ODP Leg 201; Gene expression
Scientific ocean drilling has revealed a deep biosphere of widespread microbial life in sub-seafloor sediment. Microbial metabolism in the marine subsurface likely plays an important role in global biogeochemical cycles1-3 but deep biosphere activities are not well understood1. Here, we describe and analyze the first subseafloor metatranscriptomes from anaerobic Peru Margin sediment up to 159 meters below seafloor (mbsf) represented by over 1 billion cDNA sequence reads. Anaerobic metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids appear to be dominant metabolic processes, and profiles of dissimilatory sulfite reductase (Dsr) transcripts are consistent with porewater sulfate concentration profiles1. Moreover, transcripts involved in cell division increase as a function of microbial cell concentration, indicating that increases in subseafloor microbial abundance are a function of cell division across all three domains of life. These data support calculations1 and models4 of subseafloor microbial metabolism and represent the first holistic picture of deep biosphere activities.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2013. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Nature Publishing Group for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Nature 499 (2013): 205-208, doi:10.1038/nature12230.
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