Microbial diversity of two cold seep systems in gas hydrate-bearing sediments in the South China Sea.Mar Environ Res 2019; 144:230-239ME
Cold seep is a unique habitat for microorganisms in deep marine sediments, and microbial communities and biogeochemical processes are still poorly understood, especially in relation to hydrate-bearing geo-systems. In this study, two cold seep systems were sampled and microbial diversity was studied at Site GMGS2-08 in the northern part of the South China Sea (SCS) during the GMGS2 gas hydrate expedition. The current cold seep system was composed of a sulfate methane transition zone (SMTZ) and an upper gas hydrate zone (UGHZ). The buried cold seep system was composed of an authigenic carbonate zone (ACZ) and a lower gas hydrate zone (LGHZ). These drill core samples provided an excellent opportunity for analyzing the microbial abundance and diversity based on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Compared to previous studies, the high relative abundance of ANME-1b, a clade of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME), may perform anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in collaboration with ANME-2c and Desulfobacteraceae in the SMTZ, and the high relative abundances of Hadesarchaea, ANME-1b archaea and Aerophobetes bacteria were found in the gas hydrate zone (GHZ) at Site GMGS2-08. ANME-1b, detected in the GHZ, might mainly mediate the AOM process, and the process might occur in a wide depth range within the LGHZ. Moreover, bacterial communities were significantly different between the GHZ and non-GHZ sediments. In the ACZ, archaeal communities were different between the two samples from the upper and the lower layers, while bacterial communities shared similarities. Overall, this new record of cold seep microbial diversity at Site GMGS2-08 showed the complexity of the interaction between biogeochemical reactions and environmental conditions.