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Title: Variations and gradients between methane seep and off-seep microbial communities in a submarine canyon system in the Northeast Pacific
Methane seeps are highly abundant marine habitats that contribute sources of chemosynthetic primary production to marine ecosystems. Seeps also factor into the global budget of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Because of these factors, methane seeps influence not only local ocean ecology, but also biogeochemical cycles on a greater scale. Methane seeps host specialized microbial communities that vary significantly based on geography, seep gross morphology, biogeochemistry, and a diversity of other ecological factors including cross-domain species interactions. In this study, we collected sediment cores from six seep and non-seep locations from Grays and Quinault Canyons (46–47°N) off Washington State, USA, as well as one non-seep site off the coast of Oregon, USA (45°N) to quantify the scale of seep influence on biodiversity within marine habitats. These samples were profiled using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Predicted gene functions were generated using the program PICRUSt2, and the community composition and predicted functions were compared among samples. The microbial communities at seeps varied by seep morphology and habitat, whereas the microbial communities at non-seep sites varied by water depth. Microbial community composition and predicted gene function clearly transitioned from on-seep to off-seep in samples collected from transects moving away from seeps, with a clear ecotone and high diversity where methane-fueled habitats transition into the non-seep deep sea. Our work demonstrates the microbial and metabolic sphere of influence that extends outwards from methane seep habitats.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1933165 2046800
Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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