Ecological functions of uncultured microorganisms in the cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust of a seamount in the central Pacific are elucidated by fosmid sequencing

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Huo, Yingyi
Cheng, Hong
Post, Anton F.
Wang, Chunsheng
Jiang, Xiawei
Pan, Jie
Wu, Min
Xu, Xuewei
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Cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust
Horizontal gene transfer
Cobalt-rich ferromanganese is an important seafloor mineral and is abundantly present in the seamount crusts. Such crusts form potential hotspots for biogeochemical activity and microbial diversity, yet our understanding of their microbial communities is lacking. In this study, we used a cultivation-independent approach to recover genomic information and derive ecological functions of the microbes in a sediment sample collected from the cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust of a seamount region in the central Pacific. A total of 78 distinct clones were obtained by fosmid library screening with a 16S rRNA based PCR method. Proteobacteria and MGI Thaumarchaeota dominated the bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequence results in the microbial community. Nine fosmid clones were sequenced and annotated. Numerous genes encoding proteins involved in metabolic functions and heavy metal resistance were identified, suggesting alternative metabolic pathways and stress responses that are essential for microbial survival in the cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust. In addition, genes that participate in the synthesis of organic acids and exoploymers were discovered. Reconstruction of the metabolic pathways revealed that the nitrogen cycle is an important biogeochemical process in the cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust. In addition, horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events have been observed, and most of them came from bacteria, with some occurring in archaea and plants. Clone W4-93a, belonging to MGI Thaumarchaeota, contained a region of gene synteny. Comparative analyses suggested that a high frequency of HGT events as well as genomic divergence play important roles in the microbial adaption to the deep-sea environment.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2014. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Acta Oceanologica Sinica 34 (2015):92-113, doi:10.1007/s13131-015-0650-7.
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