Free-Living and Symbiotic Bacterial Communities in Contrasting Hydrothermally Active Habitats




Forget, Nathalie

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Prokaryotic microorganisms, which are at the base of deep-sea hydrothermal vent food webs, adapt rapidly to environmental fluctuations. This study aimed at comparing bacterial communities in contrasting hydrothermal habitats to better understand compositional adaptations to local conditions. I first used small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequences to compare mat-forming bacterial communities associated with iron oxides at two hydrothermal vent sites on the Tonga Arc, southwest Pacific. Operational taxonomic units (OTUs), defined at 97% sequence similarity, were affiliated to a great diversity of autotrophic and heterotrophic groups. Metabolically diverse Gammaproteobacteria dominated the sample from Volcano 19, collected at 992 m depth. The sample from Volcano 1, collected at 197 m depth, was dominated by iron-oxidizing bacteria from the class Zetaproteobacteria. The depth of the sampling sites was proposed to explain clone library dissimilarities. In the following studies, I compared bacterial communities associated with the vestimentiferan tubeworm Ridgeia piscesae, a foundation species at the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Samples of the polychaete were collected from tubeworm habitats in contrasting flow regimes that influenced temperature and hydrogen sulphide concentrations. Free-living bacteria were analyzed using both sequencing and 454 pyrosequencing of the SSU rRNA gene. Statistical analyses suggested a predictable pattern of bacterial community composition for the two habitats, with higher proportions of sulphur and hydrogen oxidizers in High Flow and more heterotrophic groups in Low Flow environments. Temperature, available energy for metabolism, and stability of the habitat were suggested to explain these distinctive bacterial communities. Symbiotic assemblages were investigated using the same sequencing methods together with catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH). Gammaproteobacteria dominated all sequence libraries, followed by Epsilonproteobacteria. CARD-FISH confirmed the co-occurrence of these groups within R. piscesae trophosomes. Statistical analyses indicated distinctive membership and structure of trophosome assemblages between sampling sites. Analysis of R. piscesae juvenile showed distinctive structural properties when compared to adult individuals, but similar membership, within sampling sites. These results suggested that the composition of trophosome assemblages might be affected by specific physical and chemical conditions at each vent site and that a selection process might occur during R. piscesae’s development.



Hydrothermal vents, Microbial Ecology, Vestimentiferans, Ridgeia piscesae, Tonga Arc, Juan de Fuca Ridge, Molecular Biology, SSU rRNA gene, Sanger sequencing, Pyrosequencing, CARD-FISH, Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents, Axial Volcano