Metabolic potential of uncultured bacteria and archaea associated with petroleum seepage in deep-sea sediments

Xiyang Dong*, Chris Greening, Jayne E. Rattray, Anirban Chakraborty, Maria Chuvochina, Daisuke Mayumi, Jan Dolfing, Carmen Li, James M. Brooks, Bernie B. Bernard, Ryan A. Groves, Ian A. Lewis, Casey R.J. Hubert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
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The lack of microbial genomes and isolates from the deep seabed means that very little is known about the ecology of this vast habitat. Here, we investigate energy and carbon acquisition strategies of microbial communities from three deep seabed petroleum seeps (3 km water depth) in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Shotgun metagenomic analysis reveals that each sediment harbors diverse communities of chemoheterotrophs and chemolithotrophs. We recovered 82 metagenome-assembled genomes affiliated with 21 different archaeal and bacterial phyla. Multiple genomes encode enzymes for anaerobic oxidation of aliphatic and aromatic compounds, including those of candidate phyla Aerophobetes, Aminicenantes, TA06 and Bathyarchaeota. Microbial interactions are predicted to be driven by acetate and molecular hydrogen. These findings are supported by sediment geochemistry, metabolomics, and thermodynamic modelling. Overall, we infer that deep-sea sediments experiencing thermogenic hydrocarbon inputs harbor phylogenetically and functionally diverse communities potentially sustained through anaerobic hydrocarbon, acetate and hydrogen metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1816
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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