Productivity, metabolism and physiology of free-living chemoautotrophic Epsilonproteobacteria
McNichol, Jesse C.
MetadataShow full item record
LocationCrab Spa, East Pacific Rise
Chemoautotrophic ecosystems at deep-sea hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977, but not until 1995 were free-living autotrophic Epsilonproteobacteria identified as important microbial community members. Because the deep-sea is food-starved, the autotrophic metabolism of hydrothermal vent Epsilonproteobacteria may be very important for deep-sea consumers. However, quantifying their metabolic activities in situ has remained difficult, and biochemical mechanisms underlying their autotrophic physiology are poorly described. To gain insight into environmental processes, an approach was developed for incubations of microbes at in situ pressure and temperature (25 MPa, 24°C) with various combinations of electron donors/acceptors (H2, O2 and NO3 and 13HCO3) as a tracer to track carbon fixation. During short (18-24 h) incubations of low-temperature vent fluids from Crab Spa (9°N East Pacific Rise), the concentration of electron donors/acceptors and cell numbers were monitored to quantify microbial processes. Measured rates were generally higher than previous studies, and the stoichiometry of microbially-catalyzed redox reactions revealed new insights into sulfur and nitrogen cycling. Single-cell, taxonomically-resolved tracer incorporation showed Epsilonproteobacteria dominated carbon fixation, and their growth efficiency was calculated based on electron acceptor consumption. Using these data, in situ primary productivity, microbial standing stock, and average biomass residence time of the deep-sea vent subseafloor biosphere were estimated. Finally, the population structures of the most abundant genera Sulfurimonas and Thioreductor were shown to be strongly influenced by pO2 and temperature respectively, providing a mechanism for niche differentiation in situ. To gain insights into the core biochemical reactions underlying autotrophy in Epsilonprotebacteria, a theoretical metabolic model of Sulfurimonas denitrificans was developed. Validated iteratively by comparing in silico yields with data from chemostat experiments, the model generated hypotheses explaining critical, yet so far unresolved reactions supporting chemoautotrophy in Epsilonproteobacteria. For example, it provides insight into how energy is conserved during sulfur oxidation coupled to denitrification, how reverse electron transport produces ferredoxin for carbon fixation, and why aerobic growth yields are only slightly higher compared to denitrification. As a whole, this thesis provides important contributions towards understanding core mechanisms of chemoautrophy, as well as the in situ productivity, physiology and ecology of autotrophic Epsilonproteobacteria.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution September 2016
Suggested CitationThesis: McNichol, Jesse C., "Productivity, metabolism and physiology of free-living chemoautotrophic Epsilonproteobacteria", 2016-09, DOI:10.1575/1912/8450, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/8450
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Vertical flux, ecology and dissolution of radiolaria in tropical oceans : implications for the silica cycle Takahashi, Kozo (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1981-11)Radiolarians which settle through the oceanic water column were recovered from three stations (western Tropical Atlantic-Station E, central Tropical Pacific-Pi and Panama Basin-PB) using PARLUX sediment traps in moored ...
The ecology of colonial radiolarians : their colony morphology, trophic interactions and associations, behavior, distribution, and the photosynthesis of their symbionts Swanberg, Neil Ralph (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1979-08)Colonial radiolarians (Spumellaria) are among the most common and abundant large zooplankton, but they have been little studied by modern biologists. Colonies were found on 98% of epipelagic diving stations in the period ...
Larval ecology and synchronous reproduction of two crustacean species : Semibalanus balanoides in New England, USA and Gecarcinus quadratus in Veraguas, Panama Gyory, Joanna (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2011-02)The environmental cues for synchronous reproduction were investigated for two highly abundant, ecologically important crustacean species: the temperate acorn barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides, and the tropical terrestrial ...