National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Community structure of lithotrophically driven microbial mats from the Mariana arc and back-arc

Hager, K.W., H. Fullerton, D.A. Butterfield, and C.L. Moyer

Front. Microbiol., 8, 1578, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01578, Open Access (2017)

The Mariana region exhibits a rich array of hydrothermal venting conditions in a complex geological setting, which provides a natural laboratory to study the influence of local environmental conditions on microbial community structure as well as large-scale patterns in microbial biogeography. We used high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the bacterial small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene from 22 microbial mats collected from four hydrothermally active locations along the Mariana Arc and back-arc to explore the structure of lithotrophically-based microbial mat communities. The vent effluent was classified as iron- or sulfur-rich corresponding with two distinct community types, dominated by either Zetaproteobacteria or Epsilonproteobacteria, respectively. The Zetaproteobacterial-based communities had the highest richness and diversity, which supports the hypothesis that Zetaproteobacteria function as ecosystem engineers creating a physical habitat within a chemical environment promoting enhanced microbial diversity. Gammaproteobacteria were also high in abundance within the iron-dominated mats and some likely contribute to primary production. In addition, we also compare sampling scale, showing that bulk sampling of microbial mats yields higher diversity than micro-scale sampling. We present a comprehensive analysis and offer new insights into the community structure and diversity of lithotrophically-driven microbial mats from a hydrothermal region associated with high microbial biodiversity. Our study indicates an important functional role of for the Zetaproteobacteria altering the mat habitat and enhancing community interactions and complexity.

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