Hydrothermally generated aromatic compounds are consumed by bacteria colonizing in Atlantis II Deep of the Red Sea

Hydrothermal ecosystems have a wide distribution on Earth and many can be found in the basin of the Red Sea. Production of aromatic compounds occurs in a temperature window of 60-150 °C by utilizing organic debris. In the past 50 years, the temperature of the Atlantis II Deep brine pool in the Red Sea has increased from 56 to 68 °C, whereas the temperature at the nearby Discovery Deep brine pool has remained relatively stable at about 44 °C. In this report, we confirmed the presence of aromatic compounds in the Atlantis II brine pool as expected. The presence of the aromatic compounds might have disturbed the microbes in the Atlantis II. To show shifted microbial communities and their metabolisms, we sequenced the metagenomes of the microbes from both brine pools. Classification based on metareads and the 16S rRNA gene sequences from clones showed a strong divergence of dominant bacterial species between the pools. Bacteria capable of aromatic degradation were present in the Atlantis II brine pool. A comparison of the metabolic pathways showed that several aromatic degradation pathways were significantly enriched in the Atlantis II brine pool, suggesting the presence of aromatic compounds. Pathways utilizing metabolites derived from aromatic degradation were also significantly affected. In the Discovery brine pool, the most abundant genes from the microbes were related to sugar metabolism pathways and DNA synthesis and repair, suggesting a different strategy for the utilization of carbon and energy sources between the Discovery brinse pool and the Atlantis II brine pool. © 2011 International Society for Microbial Ecology. All rights reserved.

Wang, Y., Yang, J., Lee, O. O., Dash, S., Lau, S. C. K., Al-Suwailem, A., … Qian, P.-Y. (2011). Hydrothermally generated aromatic compounds are consumed by bacteria colonizing in Atlantis II Deep of the Red Sea. The ISME Journal, 5(10), 1652–1659. doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.42

We are grateful to Professor Roberto Kolter for his constructive comments on this manuscript, the captain and crew of the R/V Oceanus for providing technical help during the sampling, and A Bower and S Swift of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for providing environmental data and useful information about the study sites. This publication is on the basis of the work supported by an award (SA-C0040/UK-C0016) made by KAUST to PY Qian.

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