skip to main content

Title: Metaproteogenomic profiling of chemosynthetic microbial biofilms reveals metabolic flexibility during colonization of a shallow-water gas vent
Tor Caldara is a shallow-water gas vent located in the Mediterranean Sea, with active venting of CO2, H2S. At Tor Caldara, filamentous microbial biofilms, mainly composed of Epsilon- and Gammaproteobacteria, grow on substrates exposed to the gas venting. In this study, we took a metaproteogenomic approach to identify the metabolic potential and in situ expression of central metabolic pathways at two stages of biofilm maturation. Our findings indicate that inorganic reduced sulfur species are the main electron donors and CO2 the main carbon source for the filamentous biofilms, which conserve energy by oxygen and nitrate respiration, fix dinitrogen gas and detoxify heavy metals. Three metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), representative of key members in the biofilm community, were also recovered. Metaproteomic data show that metabolically active chemoautotrophic sulfide-oxidizing members of the Epsilonproteobacteria dominated the young microbial biofilms, while Gammaproteobacteria become prevalent in the established community. The co-expression of different pathways for sulfide oxidation by these two classes of bacteria suggests exposure to different sulfide concentrations within the biofilms, as well as fine-tuned adaptations of the enzymatic complexes. Taken together, our findings demonstrate a shift in the taxonomic composition and associated metabolic activity of these biofilms in the course of the colonization process.
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in microbiology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Bernstein, Hans C. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cyanobacterial mats profoundly influenced Earth’s biological and geochemical evolution and still play important ecological roles in the modern world. However, the biogeochemical functioning of cyanobacterial mats under persistent low-O 2 conditions, which dominated their evolutionary history, is not well understood. To investigate how different metabolic and biogeochemical functions are partitioned among community members, we conducted metagenomics and metatranscriptomics on cyanobacterial mats in the low-O 2 , sulfidic Middle Island sinkhole (MIS) in Lake Huron. Metagenomic assembly and binning yielded 144 draft metagenome assembled genomes, including 61 of medium quality or better, and the dominant cyanobacteria and numerous Proteobacteria involved in sulfur cycling. Strains of a Phormidium autumnale -like cyanobacterium dominated the metagenome and metatranscriptome. Transcripts for the photosynthetic reaction core genes psaA and psbA were abundant in both day and night. Multiple types of psbA genes were expressed from each cyanobacterium, and the dominant psbA transcripts were from an atypical microaerobic type of D1 protein from Phormidium . Further, cyanobacterial transcripts for photosystem I genes were more abundant than those for photosystem II, and two types of Phormidium sulfide quinone reductase were recovered, consistent with anoxygenic photosynthesis via photosystem I in the presence of sulfide. Transcripts indicate active sulfurmore »oxidation and reduction within the cyanobacterial mat, predominately by Gammaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria , respectively. Overall, these genomic and transcriptomic results link specific microbial groups to metabolic processes that underpin primary production and biogeochemical cycling in a low-O 2 cyanobacterial mat and suggest mechanisms for tightly coupled cycling of oxygen and sulfur compounds in the mat ecosystem. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacterial mats are dense communities of microorganisms that contain photosynthetic cyanobacteria along with a host of other bacterial species that play important yet still poorly understood roles in this ecosystem. Although such cyanobacterial mats were critical agents of Earth’s biological and chemical evolution through geological time, little is known about how they function under the low-oxygen conditions that characterized most of their natural history. Here, we performed sequencing of the DNA and RNA of modern cyanobacterial mat communities under low-oxygen and sulfur-rich conditions from the Middle Island sinkhole in Lake Huron. The results reveal the organisms and metabolic pathways that are responsible for both oxygen-producing and non-oxygen-producing photosynthesis as well as interconversions of sulfur that likely shape how much O 2 is produced in such ecosystems. These findings indicate tight metabolic reactions between community members that help to explain the limited the amount of O 2 produced in cyanobacterial mat ecosystems.« less
  2. DeAngelis, Kristen M. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Microbial interactions are often mediated by diffusible small molecules, including secondary metabolites, that play roles in cell-to-cell signaling and inhibition of competitors. Biofilms are often “hot spots” for high concentrations of bacteria and their secondary metabolites, which make them ideal systems for the study of small-molecule contributions to microbial interactions. Here, we use a five-member synthetic community consisting of Roseobacteraceae representatives to investigate the role of secondary metabolites on microbial biofilm dynamics. One synthetic community member, Rhodobacterales strain Y4I, possesses two acylated homoserine lactone (AHL)-based cell-to-cell signaling systems ( pgaRI and phaRI ) as well as a nonribosomal peptide synthase gene ( igi ) cluster that encodes the antimicrobial indigoidine. Through serial substitution of Y4I with mutants deficient in single signaling molecule pathways, the contribution of these small-molecule systems could be assessed. As secondary metabolite production is dependent upon central metabolites, the influence of growth substrate (i.e., complex medium versus defined medium with a single carbon substrate) on these dynamics was also considered. Depending on the Y4I mutant genotype included, community dynamics ranged from competitive to cooperative. The observed interactions were mostly competitive in nature. However, the community harboring a Y4I variant that was both impaired in quorum sensingmore »(QS) pathways and unable to produce indigoidine ( pgaR variant) shifted toward more cooperative interactions over time. These cooperative interactions were enhanced in the defined growth medium. The results presented provide a framework for deciphering complex, small-molecule-mediated interactions that have broad application to microbial biology. IMPORTANCE Microbial biofilms play critical roles in marine ecosystems and are hot spots for microbial interactions that play a role in the development and function of these communities. Roseobacteraceae are an abundant and active family of marine heterotrophic bacteria forming close associations with phytoplankton and carrying out key transformations in biogeochemical cycles. Group members are aggressive primary colonizers of surfaces, where they set the stage for the development of multispecies biofilm communities. Few studies have examined the impact of secondary metabolites, such as cell-to-cell signaling and antimicrobial production, on marine microbial biofilm community structure. Here, we assessed the impact of secondary metabolites on microbial interactions using a synthetic, five-member Roseobacteraceae community by measuring species composition and biomass production during biofilm growth. We present evidence that secondary metabolites influence social behaviors within these multispecies microbial biofilms, thereby improving understanding of bacterial secondary metabolite production influence on social behaviors within marine microbial biofilm communities.« less
  3. Shallow water hydrothermal vents represent highly dynamic environments where strong geochemical gradients can shape microbial communities. Recently, these systems are being widely used for investigating the effects of ocean acidification on biota as vent emissions can release high CO 2 concentrations causing local pH reduction. However, other gas species, as well as trace elements and metals, are often released in association with CO 2 and can potentially act as confounding factors. In this study, we evaluated the composition, diversity and inferred functional profiles of microbial biofilms in Levante Bay (Vulcano Island, Italy, Mediterranean Sea), a well-studied shallow-water hydrothermal vent system. We analyzed 16S rRNA transcripts from biofilms exposed to different intensity of hydrothermal activity, following a redox and pH gradient across the bay. We found that elevated CO 2 concentrations causing low pH can affect the response of bacterial groups and taxa by either increasing or decreasing their relative abundance. H 2 S proved to be a highly selective factor shaping the composition and affecting the diversity of the community by selecting for sulfide-dependent, chemolithoautotrophic bacteria. The analysis of the 16S rRNA transcripts, along with the inferred functional profile of the communities, revealed a strong influence of H 2 Smore »in the southern portion of the study area, and temporal succession affected the inferred abundance of genes for key metabolic pathways. Our results revealed that the composition of the microbial assemblages vary at very small spatial scales, mirroring the highly variable geochemical signature of vent emissions and cautioning for the use of these environments as models to investigate the effects of ocean acidification on microbial diversity.« less
  4. Abstract Background

    Elucidating the spatial structure of host-associated microbial communities is essential for understanding taxon-taxon interactions within the microbiota and between microbiota and host. Macroalgae are colonized by complex microbial communities, suggesting intimate symbioses that likely play key roles in both macroalgal and bacterial biology, yet little is known about the spatial organization of microbes associated with macroalgae. Canopy-forming kelp are ecologically significant, fixing teragrams of carbon per year in coastal kelp forest ecosystems. We characterized the micron-scale spatial organization of bacterial communities on blades of the kelpNereocystis luetkeanausing fluorescence in situ hybridization and spectral imaging with a probe set combining phylum-, class-, and genus-level probes to localize and identify > 90% of the microbial community.


    We show that kelp blades host a dense microbial biofilm composed of disparate microbial taxa in close contact with one another. The biofilm is spatially differentiated, with clustered cells of the dominant symbiontGranulosicoccussp. (Gammaproteobacteria) close to the kelp surface and filamentousBacteroidetesandAlphaproteobacteriarelatively more abundant near the biofilm-seawater interface. A community rich inBacteroidetescolonized the interior of kelp tissues. Microbial cell density increased markedly along the length of the kelp blade, from sparse microbial colonization of newly produced tissues at the meristematic base of the blade to anmore »abundant microbial biofilm on older tissues at the blade tip. Kelp from a declining population hosted fewer microbial cells compared to kelp from a stable population.


    Imaging revealed close association, at micrometer scales, of different microbial taxa with one another and with the host. This spatial organization creates the conditions necessary for metabolic exchange among microbes and between host and microbiota, such as provisioning of organic carbon to the microbiota and impacts of microbial nitrogen metabolisms on host kelp. The biofilm coating the surface of the kelp blade is well-positioned to mediate interactions between the host and surrounding organisms and to modulate the chemistry of the surrounding water column. The high density of microbial cells on kelp blades (105–107cells/cm2), combined with the immense surface area of kelp forests, indicates that biogeochemical functions of the kelp microbiome may play an important role in coastal ecosystems.

    « less
  5. Abstract Background

    When deep-sea hydrothermal fluids mix with cold oxygenated fluids, minerals precipitate out of solution and form hydrothermal deposits. These actively venting deep-sea hydrothermal deposits support a rich diversity of thermophilic microorganisms which are involved in a range of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and hydrogen metabolisms. Global patterns of thermophilic microbial diversity in deep-sea hydrothermal ecosystems have illustrated the strong connectivity between geological processes and microbial colonization, but little is known about the genomic diversity and physiological potential of these novel taxa. Here we explore this genomic diversity in 42 metagenomes from four deep-sea hydrothermal vent fields and a deep-sea volcano collected from 2004 to 2018 and document their potential implications in biogeochemical cycles.


    Our dataset represents 3635 metagenome-assembled genomes encompassing 511 novel and recently identified genera from deep-sea hydrothermal settings. Some of the novel bacterial (107) and archaeal genera (30) that were recently reported from the deep-sea Brothers volcano were also detected at the deep-sea hydrothermal vent fields, while 99 bacterial and 54 archaeal genera were endemic to the deep-sea Brothers volcano deposits. We report some of the first examples of medium- (≥ 50% complete, ≤ 10% contaminated) to high-quality (> 90% complete, < 5% contaminated) MAGs from phyla and families never previously identified, or poorlymore »sampled, from deep-sea hydrothermal environments. We greatly expand the novel diversity of Thermoproteia, Patescibacteria (Candidate Phyla Radiation, CPR), and Chloroflexota found at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and identify a small sampling of two potentially novel phyla, designated JALSQH01 and JALWCF01. Metabolic pathway analysis of metagenomes provides insights into the prevalent carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and hydrogen metabolic processes across all sites and illustrates sulfur and nitrogen metabolic “handoffs” in community interactions. We confirm that Campylobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria occupy similar ecological guilds but their prevalence in a particular site is driven by shifts in the geochemical environment.


    Our study of globally distributed hydrothermal vent deposits provides a significant expansion of microbial genomic diversity associated with hydrothermal vent deposits and highlights the metabolic adaptation of taxonomic guilds. Collectively, our results illustrate the importance of comparative biodiversity studies in establishing patterns of shared phylogenetic diversity and physiological ecology, while providing many targets for enrichment and cultivation of novel and endemic taxa.

    « less