Popa Radu

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In situ enrichment of ocean crust microbes on igneous minerals and glasses using an osmotic flow-through device

2011-06-21 , Smith, Amy , Popa, Radu , Fisk, Martin , Nielsen, Mark , Wheat, C. Geoffrey , Jannasch, Hans W. , Fisher, Andrew T. , Becker, Keir , Sievert, Stefan M. , Flores, Gilberto

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Hole 1301A on the eastern flank of Juan de Fuca Ridge was used in the first long-term deployment of microbial enrichment flow cells using osmotically driven pumps in a subseafloor borehole. Three novel osmotically driven colonization systems with unidirectional flow were deployed in the borehole and incubated for 4 years to determine the microbial colonization preferences for 12 minerals and glasses present in igneous rocks. Following recovery of the colonization systems, we measured cell density on the minerals and glasses by fluorescent staining and direct counting and found some significant differences between mineral samples. We also determined the abundance of mesophilic and thermophilic culturable organotrophs grown on marine R2A medium and identified isolates by partial 16S or 18S rDNA sequencing. We found that nine distinct phylotypes of culturable mesophilic oligotrophs were present on the minerals and glasses and that eight of the nine can reduce nitrate and oxidize iron. Fe(II)-rich olivine minerals had the highest density of total countable cells and culturable organotrophic mesophiles, as well as the only culturable organotrophic thermophiles. These results suggest that olivine (a common igneous mineral) in seawater-recharged ocean crust is capable of supporting microbial communities, that iron oxidation and nitrate reduction may be important physiological characteristics of ocean crust microbes, and that heterogeneously distributed minerals in marine igneous rocks likely influence the distribution of microbial communities in the ocean crust.