Nitrate-based niche differentiation by distinct sulfate-reducing bacteria involved in the anaerobic oxidation of methane.ISME J. 2014 Jan; 8(1):150-63.IJ
Diverse associations between methanotrophic archaea (ANME) and sulfate-reducing bacterial groups (SRB) often co-occur in marine methane seeps; however, the ecophysiology of these different symbiotic associations has not been examined. Here, we applied a combination of molecular, geochemical and Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) coupled to nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (FISH-NanoSIMS) analyses of in situ seep sediments and methane-amended sediment incubations from diverse locations (Eel River Basin, Hydrate Ridge and Costa Rican Margin seeps) to investigate the distribution and physiology of a newly identified subgroup of the Desulfobulbaceae (seepDBB) found in consortia with ANME-2c archaea, and compared these with the more commonly observed associations between the same ANME partner and the Desulfobacteraceae (DSS). FISH analyses revealed aggregates of seepDBB cells in association with ANME-2 from both environmental samples and laboratory incubations that are distinct in their structure relative to co-occurring ANME/DSS consortia. ANME/seepDBB aggregates were most abundant in shallow sediment depths below sulfide-oxidizing microbial mats. Depth profiles of ANME/seepDBB aggregate abundance revealed a positive correlation with elevated porewater nitrate relative to ANME/DSS aggregates in all seep sites examined. This relationship with nitrate was supported by sediment microcosm experiments, in which the abundance of ANME/seepDBB was greater in nitrate-amended incubations relative to the unamended control. FISH-NanoSIMS additionally revealed significantly higher (15)N-nitrate incorporation levels in individual aggregates of ANME/seepDBB relative to ANME/DSS aggregates from the same incubation. These combined results suggest that nitrate is a geochemical effector of ANME/seepDBB aggregate distribution, and provides a unique niche for these consortia through their utilization of a greater range of nitrogen substrates than the ANME/DSS.