Baker Brett J.

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Brett J.

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  • Article
    Genomic and transcriptomic evidence for scavenging of diverse organic compounds by widespread deep-sea archaea
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2015-11-17) Li, Meng ; Baker, Brett J. ; Anantharaman, Karthik ; Jain, Sunit ; Breier, John A. ; Dick, Gregory J.
    Microbial activity is one of the most important processes to mediate the flux of organic carbon from the ocean surface to the seafloor. However, little is known about the microorganisms that underpin this key step of the global carbon cycle in the deep oceans. Here we present genomic and transcriptomic evidence that five ubiquitous archaeal groups actively use proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids and lipids as sources of carbon and energy at depths ranging from 800 to 4,950 m in hydrothermal vent plumes and pelagic background seawater across three different ocean basins. Genome-enabled metabolic reconstructions and gene expression patterns show that these marine archaea are motile heterotrophs with extensive mechanisms for scavenging organic matter. Our results shed light on the ecological and physiological properties of ubiquitous marine archaea and highlight their versatile metabolic strategies in deep oceans that might play a critical role in global carbon cycling.
  • Preprint
    Microbial iron uptake as a mechanism for dispersing iron from deep-sea hydrothermal vents
    ( 2014-01) Li, Meng ; Toner, Brandy M. ; Baker, Brett J. ; Breier, John A. ; Sheik, Cody S. ; Dick, Gregory J.
    Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are a significant source of oceanic iron. Although hydrothermal iron rapidly precipitates as inorganic minerals upon mixing with seawater, it can be stabilized by organic matter and dispersed more widely than previously recognized. The nature and source of this organic matter is unknown. Here we show that microbial genes involved in cellular iron uptake are highly expressed in the Guaymas Basin deep-sea hydrothermal plume. The nature of these microbial iron transporters, taken together with the low concentration of dissolved iron and abundance of particulate iron in the plume, indicates that iron minerals are the target for this microbial scavenging and uptake. Our findings indicate that cellular iron uptake is a major process in plume microbial communities and suggest new mechanisms for generating Fe-C complexes. This “microbial iron pump” could represent an important mode of converting hydrothermal iron into bioavailable forms that can be dispersed through the oceans.