Image_5_Comparative Analysis of Microbial Diversity Across Temperature Gradients in Hot Springs From Yellowstone and Iceland.JPEG
Geothermal hot springs are a natural setting to study microbial adaptation to a wide range of temperatures reaching up to boiling. Temperature gradients lead to distinct microbial communities that inhabit their optimum niches. We sampled three alkaline, high temperature (80–100°C) hot springs in Yellowstone and Iceland that had cooling outflows and whose microbial communities had not been studied previously. The microbial composition in sediments and mats was determined by DNA sequencing of rRNA gene amplicons. Over three dozen phyla of Archaea and Bacteria were identified, representing over 1700 distinct organisms. We observed a significant non-linear reduction in the number of microbial taxa as the temperature increased from warm (38°C) to boiling. At high taxonomic levels, the community structure was similar between the Yellowstone and Iceland hot springs. We identified potential endemism at the genus level, especially in thermophilic phototrophs, which may have been potentially driven by distinct environmental conditions and dispersal limitations.