Image_1_Metagenomic Insights Into the Microbial Iron Cycle of Subseafloor Habitats.TIFF (1.61 MB)
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posted on 03.09.2021, 05:39 by Arkadiy I. Garber, Ashley B. Cohen, Kenneth H. Nealson, Gustavo A. Ramírez, Roman A. Barco, Tristan C. Enzingmüller-Bleyl, Michelle M. Gehringer, Nancy Merino

Microbial iron cycling influences the flux of major nutrients in the environment (e.g., through the adsorptive capacity of iron oxides) and includes biotically induced iron oxidation and reduction processes. The ecological extent of microbial iron cycling is not well understood, even with increased sequencing efforts, in part due to limitations in gene annotation pipelines and limitations in experimental studies linking phenotype to genotype. This is particularly true for the marine subseafloor, which remains undersampled, but represents the largest contiguous habitat on Earth. To address this limitation, we used FeGenie, a database and bioinformatics tool that identifies microbial iron cycling genes and enables the development of testable hypotheses on the biogeochemical cycling of iron. Herein, we survey the microbial iron cycle in diverse subseafloor habitats, including sediment-buried crustal aquifers, as well as surficial and deep sediments. We inferred the genetic potential for iron redox cycling in 32 of the 46 metagenomes included in our analysis, demonstrating the prevalence of these activities across underexplored subseafloor ecosystems. We show that while some processes (e.g., iron uptake and storage, siderophore transport potential, and iron gene regulation) are near-universal, others (e.g., iron reduction/oxidation, siderophore synthesis, and magnetosome formation) are dependent on local redox and nutrient status. Additionally, we detected niche-specific differences in strategies used for dissimilatory iron reduction, suggesting that geochemical constraints likely play an important role in dictating the dominant mechanisms for iron cycling. Overall, our survey advances the known distribution, magnitude, and potential ecological impact of microbe-mediated iron cycling and utilization in sub-benthic ecosystems.

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