Microorganisms are central to the cycling of methane on Earth. The anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) is a globally important process in anoxic marine sediments, which is often coupled to the reduction of sulfate by anaerobic methanotroph (ANME) archaea and sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB). However, the environmental and geochemical conditions that constrain these microbial communities remain largely uncharacterized. In this dissertation, I present evidence that methane and C2-C4 alkanes are substantial sources of metabolic energy in sedimented hydrothermal vent systems. Furthermore, these studies demonstrate that AOM and C2-C4 alkane oxidation linked to sulfate reduction (SR) are governed by temperature and substrate availability.
Using continuous-flow sediment bioreactors and batch incubations, rate measurements revealed a striking uncoupling of AOM from SR across the thermal gradient characteristic of hydrothermal vent sediments, with AOM occurring at the highest temperature (90°C) in the absence of SR. I discovered that ANMEs were present in sediments at all temperatures investigated, including a unique thermophilic ANME clade, while SRB were only detected in cooler regimes. Next, I present data from batch incubations demonstrating for the first time that substantial C2-C4 alkane oxidation occurs over a broad temperature range (25 - 75°C) in hydrothermal vent sediments and is coupled to SR up to 75°C with maximum rates at 55°C. Furthermore, there was preferential degradation of C2-C4 alkanes at 55°C, indicating that the active alkane oxidizers are thermophilic. At the rate maxima, 16S rRNA pyrotag sequence data revealed that a novel SRB lineage was the likely phylotype mediating the anaerobic oxidation of C 2-C4 alkanes.
Finally, I present a comparative study of methane- and sulfur-cycling ecotypes in geographically separated hydrothermal vent and hydrocarbon seep sediments. By employing high throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA genes coupled to geochemical data, I was able to establish the environmental constraints that determine ANME and SRB ecotype diversity and distribution in these biogeochemically distinct deep sea habitats. In summary, this dissertation sheds light on the pervasive effects of temperature, substrate availability, and habitat type on these metabolic processes that are critical for the cycling of carbon and sulfur in deep sea hydrothermal vent sediments.
|Advisor:||Girguis, Peter R.|
|Commitee:||Cavanaugh, Colleen M., Johnston, David T., Knoll, Andrew H.|
|Department:||Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-B 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Hydrocarbon, Hydrothermal, Metabolism, Microbial, Sulfur, Vent|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be