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ArticleBacterial group II introns in a deep-sea hydrothermal vent environment(American Society for Microbiology, 2002-12) Podar, Mircea ; Mullineaux, Lauren S. ; Huang, Hon-Ren ; Perlman, Philip S. ; Sogin, Mitchell L.Group II introns are catalytic RNAs and mobile retrotransposable elements known to be present in the genomes of some nonmarine bacteria and eukaryotic organelles. Here we report the discovery of group II introns in a bacterial mat sample collected from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent near 9°N on the East Pacific Rise. One of the introns was shown to self-splice in vitro. This is the first example of marine bacterial introns from molecular population structure studies of microorganisms that live in the proximity of hydrothermal vents. These types of mobile genetic elements may prove useful in improving our understanding of bacterial genome evolution and may serve as valuable markers in comparative studies of bacterial communities.
ArticleComplex subsurface hydrothermal fluid mixing at a submarine arc volcano supports distinct and highly diverse microbial communities(National Academy of Sciences, 2020-12-04) Reysenbach, Anna-Louise ; St. John, Emily ; Meneghin, Jennifer ; Flores, Gilberto ; Podar, Mircea ; Dombrowski, Nina ; Spang, Anja ; L’Haridon, Stephane ; Humphris, Susan E. ; de Ronde, Cornel E. J. ; Tontini, F. Caratori ; Tivey, Maurice A. ; Stucker, Valerie ; Stewart, Lucy C. ; Diehl, Alexander ; Bach, WolfgangHydrothermally active submarine volcanoes are mineral-rich biological oases contributing significantly to chemical fluxes in the deep sea, yet little is known about the microbial communities inhabiting these systems. Here we investigate the diversity of microbial life in hydrothermal deposits and their metagenomics-inferred physiology in light of the geological history and resulting hydrothermal fluid paths in the subsurface of Brothers submarine volcano north of New Zealand on the southern Kermadec arc. From metagenome-assembled genomes we identified over 90 putative bacterial and archaeal genomic families and nearly 300 previously unknown genera, many potentially endemic to this submarine volcanic environment. While magmatically influenced hydrothermal systems on the volcanic resurgent cones of Brothers volcano harbor communities of thermoacidophiles and diverse members of the superphylum “DPANN,” two distinct communities are associated with the caldera wall, likely shaped by two different types of hydrothermal circulation. The communities whose phylogenetic diversity primarily aligns with that of the cone sites and magmatically influenced hydrothermal systems elsewhere are characterized predominately by anaerobic metabolisms. These populations are probably maintained by fluids with greater magmatic inputs that have interacted with different (deeper) previously altered mineral assemblages. However, proximal (a few meters distant) communities with gene-inferred aerobic, microaerophilic, and anaerobic metabolisms are likely supported by shallower seawater-dominated circulation. Furthermore, mixing of fluids from these two distinct hydrothermal circulation systems may have an underlying imprint on the high microbial phylogenomic diversity. Collectively our results highlight the importance of considering geologic evolution and history of subsurface processes in studying microbial colonization and community dynamics in volcanic environments.