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Bacterial Variability within an Iron-Silica-Manganese-rich Hydrothermal Mound Located Off-axis at the Cleft Segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge

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Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphisms (T-RFLPs) and traditional clone library analysis were used to identify and assess the spatial variability of microbial communities within an active diffusely venting hydrothermal mound found 4 km off-axis at the Cleft Segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge. T-RFLP fingerprints were generated from three subsamples taken from different depths of a sediment core. The top and center subsamples were dominated by phylotypes clustering with the proposed ζ-Proteobacteria. The bottom of the core was dominated by a phylotype clustering in the Nitrospina group within the δ-Proteobacteria. Cluster analysis of T-RFLP fingerprints from the center of the core shows a similar community structure with those from iron-dominated microbial mat communities collected from NW Eifuku Seamount in the Mariana Island Arc and from Loihi Seamount, Hawaii. Our study demonstrates that off-axis diffuse hydrothermal activity generates microbial communities that can potentially affect their habitat through the differential precipitation of Fe-, Si-, and Mn-rich deposits.

Keywords: biogeochemical cycling; biomineralization; community structure; iron-oxidizing bacteria

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA 2: Physical Sciences, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, California, USA 3: Global Undersea Research Unit, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Moss Landing, California, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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