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  1. Glass, Jennifer B. (Ed.)

    Sulfur-cycling microbial communities in salt marsh rhizosphere sediments mediate a recycling and detoxification system central to plant productivity. Despite the importance of sulfur-cycling microbes, their biogeographic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity remain poorly understood. Here, we use metagenomic data sets from Massachusetts (MA) and Alabama (AL) salt marshes to examine the distribution and genomic diversity of sulfur-cycling plant-associated microbes. Samples were collected from sediments underSporobolus alterniflorusandSporobolus pumilusin separate MA vegetation zones, and underS. alterniflorusandJuncus roemerianusco-occuring in AL. We grouped metagenomic data by plant species and site and identified 38 MAGs that included pathways for sulfate reduction or sulfur oxidation. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that 29 of the 38 were affiliated with uncultivated lineages. We showed differentiation in the distribution of MAGs between AL and MA, betweenS. alterniflorusandS. pumilusvegetation zones in MA, but no differentiation betweenS. alterniflorusandJ. roemerianusin AL. Pangenomic analyses of eight ubiquitous MAGs also detected site- and vegetation-specific genomic features, including varied sulfur-cycling operons, carbon fixation pathways, fixed single-nucleotide variants, and active diversity-generating retroelements. This genetic diversity, detected at multiple scales, suggests evolutionary relationships affected by distance and local environment, and demonstrates differential microbial capacities for sulfur and carbon cycling in salt marsh sediments.


    Salt marshes are known for their significant carbon storage capacity, and sulfur cycling is closely linked with the ecosystem-scale carbon cycling in these ecosystems. Sulfate reducers are key for the decomposition of organic matter, and sulfur oxidizers remove toxic sulfide, supporting the productivity of marsh plants. To date, the complexity of coastal environments, heterogeneity of the rhizosphere, high microbial diversity, and uncultured majority hindered our understanding of the genomic diversity of sulfur-cycling microbes in salt marshes. Here, we use comparative genomics to overcome these challenges and provide an in-depth characterization of sulfur-cycling microbial diversity in salt marshes. We characterize communities across distinct sites and plant species and uncover extensive genomic diversity at the taxon level and specific genomic features present in MAGs affiliated with uncultivated sulfur-cycling lineages. Our work provides insights into the partnerships in salt marshes and a roadmap for multiscale analyses of diversity in complex biological systems.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 29, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Background Lagoons are common along coastlines worldwide and are important for biogeochemical element cycling, coastal biodiversity, coastal erosion protection and blue carbon sequestration. These ecosystems are frequently disturbed by weather, tides, and human activities. Here, we investigated a shallow lagoon in New England. The brackish ecosystem releases hydrogen sulfide particularly upon physical disturbance, causing blooms of anoxygenic sulfur-oxidizing phototrophs. To study the habitat, microbial community structure, assembly and function we carried out in situ experiments investigating the bloom dynamics over time. Results Phototrophic microbial mats and permanently or seasonally stratified water columns commonly contain multiple phototrophic lineages that coexist based on their light, oxygen and nutrient preferences. We describe similar coexistence patterns and ecological niches in estuarine planktonic blooms of phototrophs. The water column showed steep gradients of oxygen, pH, sulfate, sulfide, and salinity. The upper part of the bloom was dominated by aerobic phototrophic Cyanobacteria , the middle and lower parts by anoxygenic purple sulfur bacteria ( Chromatiales ) and green sulfur bacteria ( Chlorobiales ), respectively. We show stable coexistence of phototrophic lineages from five bacterial phyla and present metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of two uncultured Chlorobaculum and Prosthecochloris species. In addition to genes involved in sulfur oxidation and photopigment biosynthesis the MAGs contained complete operons encoding for terminal oxidases. The metagenomes also contained numerous contigs affiliating with Microviridae viruses, potentially affecting Chlorobi . Our data suggest a short sulfur cycle within the bloom in which elemental sulfur produced by sulfide-oxidizing phototrophs is most likely reduced back to sulfide by Desulfuromonas sp . Conclusions The release of sulfide creates a habitat selecting for anoxygenic sulfur-oxidizing phototrophs, which in turn create a niche for sulfur reducers. Strong syntrophism between these guilds apparently drives a short sulfur cycle that may explain the rapid development of the bloom. The fast growth and high biomass yield of Chlorobi -affiliated organisms implies that the studied lineages of green sulfur bacteria can thrive in hypoxic habitats. This oxygen tolerance is corroborated by oxidases found in MAGs of uncultured Chlorobi . The findings improve our understanding of the ecology and ecophysiology of anoxygenic phototrophs and their impact on the coupled biogeochemical cycles of sulfur and carbon. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Cold seeps and hydrothermal vents are seafloor habitats fueled by subsurface energy sources. Both habitat types coexist in Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California, providing an opportunity to compare microbial communities with distinct physiologies adapted to different thermal regimes. Hydrothermally active sites in the southern Guaymas Basin axial valley, and cold seep sites at Octopus Mound, a carbonate mound with abundant methanotrophic cold seep fauna at the Central Seep location on the northern off-axis flanking regions, show consistent geochemical and microbial differences between hot, temperate, cold seep, and background sites. The changing microbial actors include autotrophic and heterotrophic bacterial and archaeal lineages that catalyze sulfur, nitrogen, and methane cycling, organic matter degradation, and hydrocarbon oxidation. Thermal, biogeochemical, and microbiological characteristics of the sampling locations indicate that sediment thermal regime and seep-derived or hydrothermal energy sources structure the microbial communities at the sediment surface. 
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