Wu X, Holmfeldt K, Hubalek V, Lundin D, Åström M, Bertilsson S, Dopson M
ISME J 10 (5) 1192-1203 [2016-05-00; online 2015-10-21]
Microorganisms in the terrestrial deep biosphere host up to 20% of the earth's biomass and are suggested to be sustained by the gases hydrogen and carbon dioxide. A metagenome analysis of three deep subsurface water types of contrasting age (from <20 to several thousand years) and depth (171 to 448 m) revealed phylogenetically distinct microbial community subsets that either passed or were retained by a 0.22 μm filter. Such cells of <0.22 μm would have been overlooked in previous studies relying on membrane capture. Metagenomes from the three water types were used for reconstruction of 69 distinct microbial genomes, each with >86% coverage. The populations were dominated by Proteobacteria, Candidate divisions, unclassified archaea and unclassified bacteria. The estimated genome sizes of the <0.22 μm populations were generally smaller than their phylogenetically closest relatives, suggesting that small dimensions along with a reduced genome size may be adaptations to oligotrophy. Shallow 'modern marine' water showed community members with a predominantly heterotrophic lifestyle. In contrast, the deeper, 'old saline' water adhered more closely to the current paradigm of a hydrogen-driven deep biosphere. The data were finally used to create a combined metabolic model of the deep terrestrial biosphere microbial community.