Microbial Community Response to Polysaccharide Amendment in Anoxic Hydrothermal Sediments of the Guaymas Basin

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Frontiers Media SA


Organic-rich, hydrothermal sediments of the Guaymas Basin are inhabited by diverse microbial communities including many uncultured lineages with unknown metabolic potential. Here we investigated the short-term effect of polysaccharide amendment on a sediment microbial community to identify taxa involved in the initial stage of macromolecule degradation. We incubated anoxic sediment with cellulose, chitin, laminarin, and starch and analyzed the total and active microbial communities using bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) combined with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Our results show a response of an initially minor but diverse population of Clostridia particularly after amendment with the lower molecular weight polymers starch and laminarin. Thus, Clostridia may readily become key contributors to the heterotrophic community in Guaymas Basin sediments when substrate availability and temperature range permit their metabolic activity and growth, which expands our appreciation of the potential diversity and niche differentiation of heterotrophs in hydrothermally influenced sediments. BONCAT-FACS, although challenging in its application to complex samples, detected metabolic responses prior to growth and thus can provide complementary insight into a microbial community’s metabolic potential and succession pattern. As a primary application of BONCAT-FACS on a diverse deep-sea sediment community, our study highlights important considerations and demonstrates inherent limitations associated with this experimental approach.



metabolic activity, heterotrophic community, microbial ecology, substrate analog probing, bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging, fluorescence-activated cell sorting


Krukenberg V, Reichart NJ, Spietz RL and Hatzenpichler R (2021) Microbial Community Response to Polysaccharide Amendment in Anoxic Hydrothermal Sediments of the Guaymas Basin. Front. Microbiol. 12:763971. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.763971
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