At deep-sea hydrothermal vents, primary production is carried out by chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, with the oxidation of reduced sulfur compounds being a major driver for microbial carbon fixation. Dense and highly diverse assemblies of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) are observed, yet the principles of niche differentiation between the different SOB across geochemical gradients remain poorly understood. In this study niche differentiation of the key SOB was addressed by extensive sampling of active sulfidic vents at six different hydrothermal venting sites in the Manus Basin, off Papua New Guinea. We subjected 33 diffuse fluid and water column samples and 23 samples from surfaces of chimneys, rocks and fauna to a combined analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences, metagenomes and real-time in situ measured geochemical parameters. We found Sulfurovum Epsilonproteobacteria mainly attached to surfaces exposed to diffuse venting, while the SUP05-clade dominated the bacterioplankton in highly diluted mixtures of vent fluids and seawater. We propose that the high diversity within Sulfurimonas- and Sulfurovum-related Epsilonproteobacteria observed in this study derives from the high variation of environmental parameters such as oxygen and sulfide concentrations across small spatial and temporal scales.
Journal: The ISME journal