This article is part of the Research Topic Hydrothermal microbial ecosystems

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Microbiol., 14 June 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00148

Metagenome reveals potential microbial degradation of hydrocarbon coupled with sulfate reduction in an oil-immersed chimney from Guaymas Basin

  • 1State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Ocean Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

Deep-sea hydrothermal vent chimneys contain a high diversity of microorganisms, yet the metabolic activity and the ecological functions of the microbial communities remain largely unexplored. In this study, a metagenomic approach was applied to characterize the metabolic potential in a Guaymas hydrothermal vent chimney and to conduct comparative genomic analysis among a variety of environments with sequenced metagenomes. Complete clustering of functional gene categories with a comparative metagenomic approach showed that this Guaymas chimney metagenome was clustered most closely with a chimney metagenome from Juan de Fuca. All chimney samples were enriched with genes involved in recombination and repair, chemotaxis and flagellar assembly, highlighting their roles in coping with the fluctuating extreme deep-sea environments. A high proportion of transposases was observed in all the metagenomes from deep-sea chimneys, supporting the previous hypothesis that horizontal gene transfer may be common in the deep-sea vent chimney biosphere. In the Guaymas chimney metagenome, thermophilic sulfate reducing microorganisms including bacteria and archaea were found predominant, and genes coding for the degradation of refractory organic compounds such as cellulose, lipid, pullullan, as well as a few hydrocarbons including toluene, ethylbenzene and o-xylene were identified. Therefore, this oil-immersed chimney supported a thermophilic microbial community capable of oxidizing a range of hydrocarbons that served as electron donors for sulphate reduction under anaerobic conditions.

Keywords: metagenome, deep sea, hydrothermal vent, chimney, Guaymas, biodegradation, hydrocarbon, sulfate reduction

Citation: He Y, Xiao X and Wang F (2013) Metagenome reveals potential microbial degradation of hydrocarbon coupled with sulfate reduction in an oil-immersed chimney from Guaymas Basin. Front. Microbiol. 4:148. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00148

Received: 30 January 2013; Accepted: 27 May 2013;
Published online: 14 June 2013.

Edited by:

Andreas Teske, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Reviewed by:

Melanie R. Mormile, Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA
Jinjun Kan, Stroud Water Research Center, USA

Copyright © 2013 He, Xiao and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Fengping Wang, Laboratory of Microbial Oceanography, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200240, China e-mail:

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