Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Genomic insights into potential interdependencies in microbial hydrocarbon and nutrient cycling in hydrothermal sediments

Abstract Background Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are hotspots for productivity and biodiversity. Thermal pyrolysis and circulation produce fluids rich in hydrocarbons and reduced compounds that stimulate microbial activity in surrounding sediments. Several studies have characterized the diversity of Guaymas Basin (Gulf of California) sediment-inhabiting microorganisms; however, many of the identified taxa lack cultures or genomic representations. Here, we resolved the metabolic potential and community-level interactions of these diverse communities by reconstructing and analyzing microbial genomes from metagenomic sequencing data. Results We reconstructed 115 microbial metagenome-assembled genomes comprising 27 distinct archaeal and bacterial phyla. The archaea included members of the DPANN and TACK superphyla, Bathyarchaeota, novel Methanosarcinales (GoM-Arc1), and anaerobic methane-oxidizing lineages (ANME-1). Among the bacterial phyla, members of the Bacteroidetes, Chloroflexi, and Deltaproteobacteria were metabolically versatile and harbored potential pathways for hydrocarbon and lipid degradation and a variety of respiratory processes. Genes encoding enzymes that activate anaerobic hydrocarbons for degradation were detected in Bacteroidetes, Chloroflexi, Latescibacteria, and KSB1 phyla, while the reconstructed genomes for most candidate bacteria phyla (Aminicenantes, Atribacteria, Omnitrophica, and Stahlbacteria) indicated a fermentative metabolism. Newly obtained GoM-Arc1 archaeal genomes encoded novel pathways for short-chain hydrocarbon oxidation by alkyl-coenzyme M formation. We propose metabolic linkages among different functional groups, such as fermentative community members sharing substrate-level interdependencies with sulfur- and nitrogen-cycling microbes. Conclusions Overall, inferring the physiologies of archaea and bacteria from metagenome-assembled genomes in hydrothermal deep-sea sediments has revealed potential mechanisms of carbon cycling in deep-sea sediments. Our results further suggest a network of biogeochemical interdependencies in organic matter utilization, hydrocarbon degradation, and respiratory sulfur cycling among deep-sea-inhabiting microbial communities.