Huber Julie A.

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Julie A.

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  • Article
    COBRA: a research accelerator for the crustal ocean biosphere
    (Marine Technology Society, 2021-05-01) Huber, Julie A. ; Orcutt, Beth N.
    The deep seafloor covers two-thirds of Earth's surface area, but our understanding of the ecosystems and resources found in the deep ocean, as well as the ability of deep-sea ecosystems to withstand human perturbation, is limited. These deep-sea habitats demand urgent study as there are emergent human uses in the form of deep-sea mining and carbon sequestration that will fundamentally alter physical, chemical, and biological conditions that took millions of years to establish. We propose the international network COBRA, a research accelerator for the crustal ocean biosphere. COBRA will bring together diverse stakeholders and experts, including interdisciplinary academic and government scientists, private institutions, policy makers, data systems engineers, industry experts, and others to coordinate efforts that generate new knowledge and inform decision making about activities that could affect the deep ocean and, by extension, all of society. We will also train the next generation of leaders in ocean exploration, science, and policy through an innovative virtual program to carry this effort into future generations of ocean and earth science research. COBRA will inform policies relating to emergent industrial uses of the deep ocean, decrease the likelihood of serious harm to the environment, and maintain ecosystem services for the benefit of society.
  • Article
    A distinct and active bacterial community in cold oxygenated fluids circulating beneath the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic ridge
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-03-03) Meyer, Julie L. ; Jaekel, Ulrike ; Tully, Benjamin J. ; Glazer, Brian T. ; Wheat, C. Geoffrey ; Lin, Huei-Ting ; Hsieh, Chih-Chiang ; Cowen, James P. ; Hulme, Samuel M. ; Girguis, Peter R. ; Huber, Julie A.
    The rock-hosted, oceanic crustal aquifer is one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, yet little is known about its indigenous microorganisms. Here we provide the first phylogenetic and functional description of an active microbial community residing in the cold oxic crustal aquifer. Using subseafloor observatories, we recovered crustal fluids and found that the geochemical composition is similar to bottom seawater, as are cell abundances. However, based on relative abundances and functional potential of key bacterial groups, the crustal fluid microbial community is heterogeneous and markedly distinct from seawater. Potential rates of autotrophy and heterotrophy in the crust exceeded those of seawater, especially at elevated temperatures (25°C) and deeper in the crust. Together, these results reveal an active, distinct, and diverse bacterial community engaged in both heterotrophy and autotrophy in the oxygenated crustal aquifer, providing key insight into the role of microbial communities in the ubiquitous cold dark subseafloor biosphere. An Author Correction to this article was published on 16 April 2020
  • Article
    Diversity and distribution of subseafloor Thermococcales populations in diffuse hydrothermal vents at an active deep-sea volcano in the northeast Pacific Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-12-20) Huber, Julie A. ; Butterfield, David A. ; Baross, John A.
    The presence, diversity, and distribution of a key group of subseafloor archaea, the Thermococcales, was examined in multiple diffuse flow hydrothermal vents at Axial Seamount, an active deep-sea volcano located in the northeast Pacific Ocean. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach was used to determine if this group of subseafloor indicator organisms showed any phylogenetic distribution that may indicate distinct subseafloor communities at vents with different physical and chemical characteristics. Targeted primers for the Thermococcales 16S rRNA (small subunit ribosomal RNA) gene and intergenic transcribed spacer (ITS) region were designed and applied to organisms filtered in-situ directly from a variety of diffuse flow vents. Thermococcales were amplified from 9 of 11 samples examined, and it was determined that the ITS region is a better phylogenetic marker than the 16S rRNA in defining consistent groups of closely related sequences. Results show a relationship between environmental clone distribution and source vent chemistry. The most highly diluted vents with elevated iron and alkalinity contained a distinct group of Thermococcales as defined by the ITS region, suggesting separate subseafloor Thermococcales populations at diffuse vents within the Axial caldera.
  • Article
    Selection is a significant driver of gene gain and loss in the pangenome of the bacterial genus Sulfurovum in geographically distinct deep-sea hydrothermal vents
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2020-04-14) Moulana, Alief ; Anderson, Rika E. ; Fortunato, Caroline S. ; Huber, Julie A.
    Microbial genomes have highly variable gene content, and the evolutionary history of microbial populations is shaped by gene gain and loss mediated by horizontal gene transfer and selection. To evaluate the influence of selection on gene content variation in hydrothermal vent microbial populations, we examined 22 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) (70 to 97% complete) from the ubiquitous vent Epsilonbacteraeota genus Sulfurovum that were recovered from two deep-sea hydrothermal vent regions, Axial Seamount in the northeastern Pacific Ocean (13 MAGs) and the Mid-Cayman Rise in the Caribbean Sea (9 MAGs). Genes involved in housekeeping functions were highly conserved across Sulfurovum lineages. However, genes involved in environment-specific functions, and in particular phosphate regulation, were found mostly in Sulfurovum genomes from the Mid-Cayman Rise in the low-phosphate Atlantic Ocean environment, suggesting that nutrient limitation is an important selective pressure for these bacteria. Furthermore, genes that were rare within the pangenome were more likely to undergo positive selection than genes that were highly conserved in the pangenome, and they also appeared to have experienced gene-specific sweeps. Our results suggest that selection is a significant driver of gene gain and loss for dominant microbial lineages in hydrothermal vents and highlight the importance of factors like nutrient limitation in driving microbial adaptation and evolution.
  • Article
    Draft genome sequence of Desulfurobacterium sp. Strain AV08, a Thermophilic Chemolithoautotroph isolated from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-08-26) Skoog, Emilie J. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Serres, Margrethe H. ; Levesque, Alice ; Zeigler Allen, Lisa
    A thermophilic chemolithoautotrophic bacterium was isolated from vent fluids at Axial Seamount, an active deep-sea volcano in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We present the draft genome sequence of Desulfurobacterium sp. strain AV08.
  • Article
    Axial Seamount
    (Oceanography Society, 2010-03) Chadwick, William W. ; Butterfield, David A. ; Embley, Robert W. ; Tunnicliffe, Verena ; Huber, Julie A. ; Nooner, Scott L. ; Clague, David A.
    Axial Seamount is a hotspot volcano superimposed on the Juan de Fuca Ridge (JdFR) in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Due to its robust magma supply, it rises ~ 800 m above the rest of JdFR and has a large elongate summit caldera with two rift zones that parallel and overlap with adjacent segments of the spreading center.
  • Preprint
    Diverse styles of submarine venting on the ultraslow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise
    ( 2010-06-24) German, Christopher R. ; Bowen, Andrew D. ; Coleman, Max ; Honig, D. L. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Jakuba, Michael V. ; Kinsey, James C. ; Kurz, Mark D. ; Leroy, S. ; McDermott, Jill M. ; Mercier de Lepinay, B. ; Nakamura, Ko-ichi ; Seewald, Jeffrey S. ; Smith, J. L. ; Sylva, Sean P. ; Van Dover, Cindy L. ; Whitcomb, Louis L. ; Yoerger, Dana R.
    Thirty years after the first discovery of high-temperature submarine venting, the vast majority of the global Mid Ocean Ridge remains unexplored for hydrothermal activity. Of particular interest are the world’s ultra-slow spreading ridges which were the last to be demonstrated to host high-temperature venting, but may host systems particularly relevant to pre-biotic chemistry and the origins of life. Here we report first evidence for diverse and very deep hydrothermal vents along the ~110 km long, ultra-slow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise. Our data indicate that the Mid- Cayman Rise hosts at least three discrete hydrothermal sites, each representing a different type of water-rock interaction, including both mafic and ultra-mafic systems and, at ~5000 m, the deepest known hydrothermal vent. Although submarine hydrothermal circulation, in which seawater percolates through and reacts with host lithologies, occurs on all mid-ocean ridges, the diversity of vent-types identified here and their relative geographic isolation make the Mid-Cayman Rise unique in the oceans. These new sites offer prospects for: an expanded range of vent-fluid compositions; varieties of abiotic organic chemical synthesis and extremophile microorganisms; and unparalleled faunal biodiversity - all in close proximity.
  • Article
    Salt marsh sediment bacterial communities maintain original population structure after transplantation across a latitudinal gradient
    (PeerJ, 2018-05-01) Angermeyer, Angus ; Crosby, Sarah C. ; Huber, Julie A.
    Dispersal and environmental selection are two of the most important factors that govern the distributions of microbial communities in nature. While dispersal rates are often inferred by measuring the degree to which community similarity diminishes with increasing geographic distance, determining the extent to which environmental selection impacts the distribution of microbes is more complex. To address this knowledge gap, we performed a large reciprocal transplant experiment to simulate the dispersal of US East Coast salt marsh Spartina alterniflora rhizome-associated microbial sediment communities across a latitudinal gradient and determined if any shifts in microbial community composition occurred as a result of the transplantation. Using bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we did not observe large-scale changes in community composition over a five-month S. alterniflora summer growing season and found that transplanted communities more closely resembled their origin sites than their destination sites. Furthermore, transplanted communities grouped predominantly by region, with two sites from the north and three sites to the south hosting distinct bacterial taxa, suggesting that sediment communities transplanted from north to south tended to retain their northern microbial distributions, and south to north maintained a southern distribution. A small number of potential indicator 16S rRNA gene sequences had distributions that were strongly correlated to both temperature and nitrogen, indicating that some organisms are more sensitive to environmental factors than others. These results provide new insight into the microbial biogeography of salt marsh sediments and suggest that established bacterial communities in frequently-inundated environments may be both highly resistant to invasion and resilient to some environmental shifts. However, the extent to which environmental selection impacts these communities is taxon specific and variable, highlighting the complex interplay between dispersal and environmental selection for microbial communities in nature.
  • Article
    Coupled RNA-SIP and metatranscriptomics of active chemolithoautotrophic communities at a deep-sea hydrothermal vent
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-02-12) Fortunato, Caroline S. ; Huber, Julie A.
    The chemolithoautotrophic microbial community of the rocky subseafloor potentially provides a large amount of organic carbon to the deep ocean, yet our understanding of the activity and metabolic complexity of subseafloor organisms remains poorly described. A combination of metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, and RNA stable isotope probing (RNA-SIP) analyses were used to identify the metabolic potential, expression patterns, and active autotrophic bacteria and archaea and their pathways present in low-temperature hydrothermal fluids from Axial Seamount, an active submarine volcano. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic results showed the presence of genes and transcripts for sulfur, hydrogen, and ammonium oxidation, oxygen respiration, denitrification, and methanogenesis, as well as multiple carbon fixation pathways. In RNA-SIP experiments across a range of temperatures under reducing conditions, the enriched 13C fractions showed differences in taxonomic and functional diversity. At 30 °C and 55 °C, Epsilonproteobacteria were dominant, oxidizing hydrogen and primarily reducing nitrate. Methanogenic archaea were also present at 55 °C, and were the only autotrophs present at 80 °C. Correspondingly, the predominant CO2 fixation pathways changed from the reductive tricarboxylic acid (rTCA) cycle to the reductive acetyl-CoA pathway with increasing temperature. By coupling RNA-SIP with meta-omics, this study demonstrates the presence and activity of distinct chemolithoautotrophic communities across a thermal gradient of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent.
  • Article
    Seasonal succession and spatial patterns of Synechococcus microdiversity in a salt marsh estuary revealed through 16S rRNA gene oligotyping
    (Frontiers Media, 2017-08-09) Mackey, Katherine R. M. ; Hunter-Cevera, Kristen R. ; Britten, Gregory L. ; Murphy, Leslie G. ; Sogin, Mitchell L. ; Huber, Julie A.
    Synechococcus are ubiquitous and cosmopolitan cyanobacteria that play important roles in global productivity and biogeochemical cycles. This study investigated the fine scale microdiversity, seasonal patterns, and spatial distributions of Synechococcus in estuarine waters of Little Sippewissett salt marsh (LSM) on Cape Cod, MA. The proportion of Synechococcus reads was higher in the summer than winter, and higher in coastal waters than within the estuary. Variations in the V4–V6 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene revealed 12 unique Synechococcus oligotypes. Two distinct communities emerged in early and late summer, each comprising a different set of statistically co-occurring Synechococcus oligotypes from different clades. The early summer community included clades I and IV, which correlated with lower temperature and higher dissolved oxygen levels. The late summer community included clades CB5, I, IV, and VI, which correlated with higher temperatures and higher salinity levels. Four rare oligotypes occurred in the late summer community, and their relative abundances more strongly correlated with high salinity than did other co-occurring oligotypes. The analysis revealed that multiple, closely related oligotypes comprised certain abundant clades (e.g., clade 1 in the early summer and clade CB5 in the late summer), but the correlations between these oligotypes varied from pair to pair, suggesting they had slightly different niches despite being closely related at the clade level. Lack of tidal water exchange between sampling stations gave rise to a unique oligotype not abundant at other locations in the estuary, suggesting physical isolation plays a role in generating additional microdiversity within the community. Together, these results contribute to our understanding of the environmental and ecological factors that influence patterns of Synechococcus microbial community composition over space and time in salt marsh estuarine waters.
  • Article
    Accuracy and quality of massively parallel DNA pyrosequencing
    (BioMed Central, 2007-07-20) Huse, Susan M. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Morrison, Hilary G. ; Sogin, Mitchell L. ; Mark Welch, David B.
    Massively parallel pyrosequencing systems have increased the efficiency of DNA sequencing, although the published per-base accuracy of a Roche GS20 is only 96%. In genome projects, highly redundant consensus assemblies can compensate for sequencing errors. In contrast, studies of microbial diversity that catalogue differences between PCR amplicons of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) or other conserved gene families cannot take advantage of consensus assemblies to detect and minimize incorrect base calls. We performed an empirical study of the per-base error rate for the Roche GS20 system using sequences of the V6 hypervariable region from cloned microbial ribosomal DNA (tag sequencing). We calculated a 99.5% accuracy rate in unassembled sequences, and identified several factors that can be used to remove a small percentage of low-quality reads, improving the accuracy to 99.75% or better. By using objective criteria to eliminate low quality data, the quality of individual GS20 sequence reads in molecular ecological applications can surpass the accuracy of traditional capillary methods.
  • Article
    Exploring microbial diversity and taxonomy using SSU rRNA hypervariable tag sequencing
    (Public Library of Science, 2008-11-21) Huse, Susan M. ; Dethlefsen, Les ; Huber, Julie A. ; Mark Welch, David B. ; Relman, David A. ; Sogin, Mitchell L.
    Massively parallel pyrosequencing of hypervariable regions from small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) genes can sample a microbial community two or three orders of magnitude more deeply per dollar and per hour than capillary sequencing of full-length SSU rRNA. As with full-length rRNA surveys, each sequence read is a tag surrogate for a single microbe. However, rather than assigning taxonomy by creating gene trees de novo that include all experimental sequences and certain reference taxa, we compare the hypervariable region tags to an extensive database of rRNA sequences and assign taxonomy based on the best match in a Global Alignment for Sequence Taxonomy (GAST) process. The resulting taxonomic census provides information on both composition and diversity of the microbial community. To determine the effectiveness of using only hypervariable region tags for assessing microbial community membership, we compared the taxonomy assigned to the V3 and V6 hypervariable regions with the taxonomy assigned to full-length SSU rRNA sequences isolated from both the human gut and a deep-sea hydrothermal vent. The hypervariable region tags and full-length rRNA sequences provided equivalent taxonomy and measures of relative abundance of microbial communities, even for tags up to 15% divergent from their nearest reference match. The greater sampling depth per dollar afforded by massively parallel pyrosequencing reveals many more members of the “rare biosphere” than does capillary sequencing of the full-length gene. In addition, tag sequencing eliminates cloning bias and the sequences are short enough to be completely sequenced in a single read, maximizing the number of organisms sampled in a run while minimizing chimera formation. This technique allows the cost-effective exploration of changes in microbial community structure, including the rare biosphere, over space and time and can be applied immediately to initiatives, such as the Human Microbiome Project.
  • Article
    Hydrogen limitation and syntrophic growth among natural assemblages of thermophilic methanogens at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
    (Frontiers Media, 2016-08-05) Topcuoglu, Begum D. ; Stewart, Lucy C. ; Morrison, Hilary G. ; Butterfield, David A. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Holden, James F.
    Thermophilic methanogens are common autotrophs at hydrothermal vents, but their growth constraints and dependence on H2 syntrophy in situ are poorly understood. Between 2012 and 2015, methanogens and H2-producing heterotrophs were detected by growth at 80∘C and 55∘C at most diffuse (7–40∘C) hydrothermal vent sites at Axial Seamount. Microcosm incubations of diffuse hydrothermal fluids at 80∘C and 55∘C demonstrated that growth of thermophilic and hyperthermophilic methanogens is primarily limited by H2 availability. Amendment of microcosms with NH4+ generally had no effect on CH4 production. However, annual variations in abundance and CH4 production were observed in relation to the eruption cycle of the seamount. Microcosm incubations of hydrothermal fluids at 80∘C and 55∘C supplemented with tryptone and no added H2 showed CH4 production indicating the capacity in situ for methanogenic H2 syntrophy. 16S rRNA genes were found in 80∘C microcosms from H2-producing archaea and H2-consuming methanogens, but not for any bacteria. In 55∘C microcosms, sequences were found from H2-producing bacteria and H2-consuming methanogens and sulfate-reducing bacteria. A co-culture of representative organisms showed that Thermococcus paralvinellae supported the syntrophic growth of Methanocaldococcus bathoardescens at 82∘C and Methanothermococcus sp. strain BW11 at 60∘C. The results demonstrate that modeling of subseafloor methanogenesis should focus primarily on H2 availability and temperature, and that thermophilic H2 syntrophy can support methanogenesis within natural microbial assemblages and may be an important energy source for thermophilic autotrophs in marine geothermal environments.
  • Article
    Microbiological characterization of post-eruption “snowblower” vents at Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge
    (Frontiers Media, 2013-06-17) Meyer, Julie L. ; Akerman, Nancy H. ; Proskurowski, Giora ; Huber, Julie A.
    Microbial processes within the subseafloor can be examined during the ephemeral and uncommonly observed phenomena known as snowblower venting. Snowblowers are characterized by the large quantity of white floc that is expelled from the seafloor following mid-ocean ridge eruptions. During these eruptions, rapidly cooling lava entrains seawater and hydrothermal fluids enriched in geochemical reactants, creating a natural bioreactor that supports a subseafloor microbial “bloom.” Previous studies hypothesized that the eruption-associated floc was made by sulfide-oxidizing bacteria; however, the microbes involved were never identified. Here we present the first molecular analysis combined with microscopy of microbial communities in snowblower vents from samples collected shortly after the 2011 eruption at Axial Seamount, an active volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. We obtained fluid samples and white flocculent material from active snowblower vents as well as orange flocculent material found on top of newly formed lava flows. Both flocculent types revealed diverse cell types and particulates when examined by phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Distinct archaeal and bacterial communities were detected in each sample type through Illumina tag sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and through sequencing of the sulfide oxidation gene, soxB. In fluids and white floc, the dominant bacteria were sulfur-oxidizing Epsilonproteobacteria and the dominant archaea were thermophilic Methanococcales. In contrast, the dominant organisms in the orange floc were Gammaproteobacteria and Thaumarchaeota Marine Group I. In all samples, bacteria greatly outnumbered archaea. The presence of anaerobic methanogens and microaerobic Epsilonproteobacteria in snowblower communities provides evidence that these blooms are seeded by subseafloor microbes, rather than from microbes in bottom seawater. These eruptive events thus provide a unique opportunity to observe subseafloor microbial communities. - See more at:
  • Article
    Integrating Multidisciplinary Observations in Vent Environments (IMOVE): decadal progress in deep-sea observatories at hydrothermal vents
    (Frontiers Media, 2022-05-13) Matabos, Marjolaine ; Barreyre, Thibaut ; Juniper, S. Kim ; Cannat, Mathilde ; Kelley, Deborah ; Alfaro-Lucas, Joan M. ; Chavagnac, Valerie ; Colaço, Ana ; Escartin, Javier E. ; Escobar Briones, Elva ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Hasenclever, Jörg ; Huber, Julie A. ; Laës-Huon, Agathe ; Lantéri, Nadine ; Levin, Lisa A. ; Mihaly, Steven F. ; Mittelstaedt, Eric ; Pradillon, Florence ; Sarradin, Pierre-Marie ; Sarradin, Pierre-Marie ; Sarrazin, Jozée ; Tomasi, Beatrice ; Venkatesan, Ramasamy ; Vic, Clément
    The unique ecosystems and biodiversity associated with mid-ocean ridge (MOR) hydrothermal vent systems contrast sharply with surrounding deep-sea habitats, however both may be increasingly threatened by anthropogenic activity (e.g., mining activities at massive sulphide deposits). Climate change can alter the deep-sea through increased bottom temperatures, loss of oxygen, and modifications to deep water circulation. Despite the potential of these profound impacts, the mechanisms enabling these systems and their ecosystems to persist, function and respond to oceanic, crustal, and anthropogenic forces remain poorly understood. This is due primarily to technological challenges and difficulties in accessing, observing and monitoring the deep-sea. In this context, the development of deep-sea observatories in the 2000s focused on understanding the coupling between sub-surface flow and oceanic and crustal conditions, and how they influence biological processes. Deep-sea observatories provide long-term, multidisciplinary time-series data comprising repeated observations and sampling at temporal resolutions from seconds to decades, through a combination of cabled, wireless, remotely controlled, and autonomous measurement systems. The three existing vent observatories are located on the Juan de Fuca and Mid-Atlantic Ridges (Ocean Observing Initiative, Ocean Networks Canada and the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory). These observatories promote stewardship by defining effective environmental monitoring including characterizing biological and environmental baseline states, discriminating changes from natural variations versus those from anthropogenic activities, and assessing degradation, resilience and recovery after disturbance. This highlights the potential of observatories as valuable tools for environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the context of climate change and other anthropogenic activities, primarily ocean mining. This paper provides a synthesis on scientific advancements enabled by the three observatories this last decade, and recommendations to support future studies through international collaboration and coordination. The proposed recommendations include: i) establishing common global scientific questions and identification of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) specific to MORs, ii) guidance towards the effective use of observatories to support and inform policies that can impact society, iii) strategies for observatory infrastructure development that will help standardize sensors, data formats and capabilities, and iv) future technology needs and common sampling approaches to answer today’s most urgent and timely questions.
  • Preprint
    Effect of PCR amplicon size on assessments of clone library microbial diversity and community structure
    ( 2008-07) Huber, Julie A. ; Morrison, Hilary G. ; Huse, Susan M. ; Neal, Phillip R. ; Sogin, Mitchell L. ; Mark Welch, David B.
    PCR-based surveys of microbial communities commonly use regions of the small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) gene to determine taxonomic membership and estimate total diversity. Here we show that the length of the target amplicon has a significant effect on assessments of microbial richness and community membership. Using OTU- and taxonomy-based tools, we compared the V6 hypervariable region of the bacterial SSU rRNA gene of three amplicon libraries of ca. 100 base pair (bp), 400bp, and 1000bp from each of two hydrothermal vent fluid samples. We found that the smallest amplicon libraries contained more unique sequences, higher diversity estimates, and a different community structure than the other two libraries from each sample. We hypothesize that a combination of polymerase dissociation, cloning bias, and mis-priming due to secondary structure accounts for the differences. While this relationship is not linear, it is clear that the smallest amplicon libraries contained more different types of sequences, and accordingly, more diverse members of the community. Because divergent and lower abundant taxa can be more readily detected with smaller amplicons, they may provide better assessments of total community diversity and taxonomic membership than longer amplicons in molecular studies of microbial communities.
  • Article
    Time-series transcriptomics from cold, oxic subseafloor crustal fluids reveals a motile, mixotrophic microbial community
    (Springer Nature, 2020-12-03) Seyler, Lauren M. ; Trembath-Reichert, Elizabeth ; Tully, Benjamin J. ; Huber, Julie A.
    The oceanic crustal aquifer is one of the largest habitable volumes on Earth, and it harbors a reservoir of microbial life that influences global-scale biogeochemical cycles. Here, we use time series metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data from a low-temperature, ridge flank environment representative of the majority of global hydrothermal fluid circulation in the ocean to reconstruct microbial metabolic potential, transcript abundance, and community dynamics. We also present metagenome-assembled genomes from recently collected fluids that are furthest removed from drilling disturbances. Our results suggest that the microbial community in the North Pond aquifer plays an important role in the oxidation of organic carbon within the crust. This community is motile and metabolically flexible, with the ability to use both autotrophic and organotrophic pathways, as well as function under low oxygen conditions by using alternative electron acceptors such as nitrate and thiosulfate. Anaerobic processes are most abundant in subseafloor horizons deepest in the aquifer, furthest from connectivity with the deep ocean, and there was little overlap in the active microbial populations between sampling horizons. This work highlights the heterogeneity of microbial life in the subseafloor aquifer and provides new insights into biogeochemical cycling in ocean crust.
  • Article
    Trophic regions of a hydrothermal plume dispersing away from an ultramafic-hosted vent-system : Von Damm vent-site, Mid-Cayman Rise
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-02-22) Bennett, Sarah A. ; Coleman, Max ; Huber, Julie A. ; Reddington, Emily ; Kinsey, James C. ; McIntyre, Cameron P. ; Seewald, Jeffrey S. ; German, Christopher R.
    Deep-sea ultramafic-hosted vent systems have the potential to provide large amounts of metabolic energy to both autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms in their dispersing hydrothermal plumes. Such vent-systems release large quantities of hydrogen and methane to the water column, both of which can be exploited by autotrophic microorganisms. Carbon cycling in these hydrothermal plumes may, therefore, have an important influence on open-ocean biogeochemistry. In this study, we investigated an ultramafic-hosted system on the Mid-Cayman Rise, emitting metal-poor and hydrogen sulfide-, methane-, and hydrogen-rich hydrothermal fluids. Total organic carbon concentrations in the plume ranged between 42.1 and 51.1 μM (background = 43.2 ± 0.7 μM (n = 5)) and near-field plume samples with elevated methane concentrations imply the presence of chemoautotrophic primary production and in particular methanotrophy. In parts of the plume characterized by persistent potential temperature anomalies but lacking elevated methane concentrations, we found elevated organic carbon concentrations of up to 51.1 μM, most likely resulting from the presence of heterotrophic communities, their extracellular products and vent larvae. Elevated carbon concentrations up to 47.4 μM were detected even in far-field plume samples. Within the Von Damm hydrothermal plume, we have used our data to hypothesize a microbial food web in which chemoautotrophy supports a heterotrophic community of microorganisms. Such an active microbial food web would provide a source of labile organic carbon to the deep ocean that should be considered in any future studies evaluating sources and sinks of carbon from hydrothermal venting to the deep ocean.
  • Preprint
    Evidence for microbial mediation of subseafloor nitrogen redox processes at Loihi Seamount, Hawaii
    ( 2016-10-24) Sylvan, Jason B. ; Wankel, Scott D. ; LaRowe, Douglas E. ; Charoenpong, Chawalit N. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Moyer, Craig L. ; Edwards, Katrina J.
    The role of nitrogen cycling in submarine hydrothermal systems is far less studied than that of other biologically reactive elements such as sulfur and iron. In order to address this knowledge gap, we investigated nitrogen redox processes at Loihi Seamount, Hawaii, using a combination of biogeochemical and isotopic measurements, bioenergetic calculations and analysis of the prokaryotic community composition in venting fluids sampled during four cruises in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013. Concentrations of NH4+ were positively correlated to dissolved Si and negatively correlated to NO3-+NO2-, while NO2- was not correlated to NO3-+NO2-, dissolved Si or NH4+. This is indicative of hydrothermal input of NH4+ and biological mediation influencing NO2- concentrations. The stable isotope ratios of NO3- (d15N and d18O) was elevated with respect to background seawater, with d18O values exhibiting larger changes than corresponding d15N values, reflecting the occurrence of both production and reduction of NO3- by an active microbial community. d15N-NH4+ values ranged from 0‰ to +16.7‰, suggesting fractionation during consumption and potentially N-fixation as well. Bioenergetic calculations reveal that several catabolic strategies involving the reduction of NO3- and NO2- coupled to sulfide and iron oxidation could provide energy to microbes in Loihi fluids, while 16S rRNA gene sequencing of Archaea and Bacteria in the fluids reveals groups known to participate in denitrification and N-fixation. Taken together, our data support the hypothesis that microbes are mediating N-based redox processes in venting hydrothermal fluids at Loihi Seamount.
  • Article
    Subseafloor microbial communities in hydrogen-rich vent fluids from hydrothermal systems along the Mid-Cayman Rise
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-01-21) Reveillaud, Julie ; Reddington, Emily ; McDermott, Jill M. ; Algar, Christopher K. ; Meyer, Julie L. ; Sylva, Sean P. ; Seewald, Jeffrey S. ; German, Christopher R. ; Huber, Julie A.
    Warm fluids emanating from hydrothermal vents can be used as windows into the rocky subseafloor habitat and its resident microbial community. Two new vent systems on the Mid-Cayman Rise each exhibits novel geologic settings and distinctively hydrogen-rich vent fluid compositions. We have determined and compared the chemistry, potential energy yielding reactions, abundance, community composition, diversity, and function of microbes in venting fluids from both sites: Piccard, the world's deepest vent site, hosted in mafic rocks; and Von Damm, an adjacent, ultramafic-influenced system. Von Damm hosted a wider diversity of lineages and metabolisms in comparison to Piccard, consistent with thermodynamic models that predict more numerous energy sources at ultramafic systems. There was little overlap in the phylotypes found at each site, although similar and dominant hydrogen-utilizing genera were present at both. Despite the differences in community structure, depth, geology, and fluid chemistry, energetic modelling and metagenomic analysis indicate near functional equivalence between Von Damm and Piccard, likely driven by the high hydrogen concentrations and elevated temperatures at both sites. Results are compared with hydrothermal sites worldwide to provide a global perspective on the distinctiveness of these newly discovered sites and the interplay among rocks, fluid composition and life in the subseafloor.