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Stable isotope labeling confirms mixotrophic nature of streamer biofilm communities at alkaline hot springs

Description

Streamer biofilm communities (SBC) are often observed within chemosynthetic zones of Yellowstone hot spring outflow channels, where temperatures exceed those conducive to photosynthesis. Nearest the hydrothermal source (75–88°C) SBC comprise

Streamer biofilm communities (SBC) are often observed within chemosynthetic zones of Yellowstone hot spring outflow channels, where temperatures exceed those conducive to photosynthesis. Nearest the hydrothermal source (75–88°C) SBC comprise thermophilic Archaea and Bacteria, often mixed communities including Desulfurococcales and uncultured Crenarchaeota, as well as Aquificae and Thermus, each carrying diagnostic membrane lipid biomarkers. We tested the hypothesis that SBC can alternate their metabolism between autotrophy and heterotrophy depending on substrate availability. Feeding experiments were performed at two alkaline hot springs in Yellowstone National Park: Octopus Spring and “Bison Pool,” using various [superscript 13]C-labeled substrates (bicarbonate, formate, acetate, and glucose) to determine the relative uptake of these different carbon sources. Highest [superscript 13]C uptake, at both sites, was from acetate into almost all bacterial fatty acids, particularly into methyl-branched C[subscript 15], C[subscript 17] and C[subscript 19] fatty acids that are diagnostic for Thermus/Meiothermus, and some Firmicutes as well as into universally common C[subscript 16:0] and C[subscript 18:0] fatty acids. [superscript 13]C-glucose showed a similar, but a 10–30 times lower uptake across most fatty acids. [superscript 13]C-bicarbonate uptake, signifying the presence of autotrophic communities was only significant at “Bison Pool” and was observed predominantly in non-specific saturated C[subscript 16], C[subscript 18], C[subscript 20], and C[subscript 22] fatty acids. Incorporation of [superscript 13]C-formate occurred only at very low rates at “Bison Pool” and was almost undetectable at Octopus Spring, suggesting that formate is not an important carbon source for SBC. [superscript 13]C-uptake into archaeal lipids occurred predominantly with [superscript 13]C-acetate, suggesting also that archaeal communities at both springs have primarily heterotrophic carbon assimilation pathways. We hypothesize that these communities are energy-limited and predominantly nurtured by input of exogenous organic material, with only a small fraction being sustained by autotrophic growth.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-02-05

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A Metastable Equilibrium Model for the Relative Abundances of Microbial Phyla in a Hot Spring

Description

Many studies link the compositions of microbial communities to their environments, but the energetics of organism-specific biomass synthesis as a function of geochemical variables have rarely been assessed. We describe

Many studies link the compositions of microbial communities to their environments, but the energetics of organism-specific biomass synthesis as a function of geochemical variables have rarely been assessed. We describe a thermodynamic model that integrates geochemical and metagenomic data for biofilms sampled at five sites along a thermal and chemical gradient in the outflow channel of the hot spring known as “Bison Pool” in Yellowstone National Park. The relative abundances of major phyla in individual communities sampled along the outflow channel are modeled by computing metastable equilibrium among model proteins with amino acid compositions derived from metagenomic sequences. Geochemical conditions are represented by temperature and activities of basis species, including pH and oxidation-reduction potential quantified as the activity of dissolved hydrogen. By adjusting the activity of hydrogen, the model can be tuned to closely approximate the relative abundances of the phyla observed in the community profiles generated from BLAST assignments. The findings reveal an inverse relationship between the energy demand to form the proteins at equal thermodynamic activities and the abundance of phyla in the community. The distance from metastable equilibrium of the communities, assessed using an equation derived from energetic considerations that is also consistent with the information-theoretic entropy change, decreases along the outflow channel. Specific divergences from metastable equilibrium, such as an underprediction of the relative abundances of phototrophic organisms at lower temperatures, can be explained by considering additional sources of energy and/or differences in growth efficiency. Although the metabolisms used by many members of these communities are driven by chemical disequilibria, the results support the possibility that higher-level patterns of chemotrophic microbial ecosystems are shaped by metastable equilibrium states that depend on both the composition of biomass and the environmental conditions.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013-09-02

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Korarchaeota Diversity, Biogeography, and Abundance in Yellowstone and Great Basin Hot Springs and Ecological Niche Modeling Based on Machine Learning

Description

Over 100 hot spring sediment samples were collected from 28 sites in 12 areas/regions, while recording as many coincident geochemical properties as feasible (>60 analytes). PCR was used to screen

Over 100 hot spring sediment samples were collected from 28 sites in 12 areas/regions, while recording as many coincident geochemical properties as feasible (>60 analytes). PCR was used to screen samples for Korarchaeota 16S rRNA genes. Over 500 Korarchaeota 16S rRNA genes were screened by RFLP analysis and 90 were sequenced, resulting in identification of novel Korarchaeota phylotypes and exclusive geographical variants. Korarchaeota diversity was low, as in other terrestrial geothermal systems, suggesting a marine origin for Korarchaeota with subsequent niche-invasion into terrestrial systems. Korarchaeota endemism is consistent with endemism of other terrestrial thermophiles and supports the existence of dispersal barriers. Korarchaeota were found predominantly in >55°C springs at pH 4.7–8.5 at concentrations up to 6.6×10[superscript 6] 16S rRNA gene copies g[superscript −1] wet sediment. In Yellowstone National Park (YNP), Korarchaeota were most abundant in springs with a pH range of 5.7 to 7.0. High sulfate concentrations suggest these fluids are influenced by contributions from hydrothermal vapors that may be neutralized to some extent by mixing with water from deep geothermal sources or meteoric water. In the Great Basin (GB), Korarchaeota were most abundant at spring sources of pH<7.2 with high particulate C content and high alkalinity, which are likely to be buffered by the carbonic acid system. It is therefore likely that at least two different geological mechanisms in YNP and GB springs create the neutral to mildly acidic pH that is optimal for Korarchaeota. A classification support vector machine (C-SVM) trained on single analytes, two analyte combinations, or vectors from non-metric multidimensional scaling models was able to predict springs as Korarchaeota-optimal or sub-optimal habitats with accuracies up to 95%. To our knowledge, this is the most extensive analysis of the geochemical habitat of any high-level microbial taxon and the first application of a C-SVM to microbial ecology.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-05-04

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High pH microbial ecosystems in a newly discovered, ephemeral, serpentinizing fluid seep at Yanartaş (Chimera), Turkey

Description

Gas seeps emanating from Yanartaş (Chimera), Turkey, have been documented for thousands of years. Active serpentinization produces hydrogen and a range of carbon gases that may provide fuel for life.

Gas seeps emanating from Yanartaş (Chimera), Turkey, have been documented for thousands of years. Active serpentinization produces hydrogen and a range of carbon gases that may provide fuel for life. Here we report a newly discovered, ephemeral fluid seep emanating from a small gas vent at Yanartaş. Fluids and biofilms were sampled at the source and points downstream. We describe site conditions, and provide microbiological data in the form of enrichment cultures, Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of solids, and PCR screens of nitrogen cycle genes. Source fluids are pH 11.95, with a Ca:Mg of ~200, and sediments under the ignited gas seep measure 60°C. Collectively, these data suggest the fluid is the product of active serpentinization at depth. Source sediments are primarily calcite and alteration products (chlorite and montmorillonite). Downstream, biofilms are mixed with montmorillonite. SEM shows biofilms distributed homogeneously with carbonates. Organic carbon accounts for 60% of the total carbon at the source, decreasing downstream to <15% as inorganic carbon precipitates. δ[superscript 13]C ratios of the organic carbon fraction of solids are depleted (−25 to −28‰) relative to the carbonates (−11 to −20‰). We conclude that heterotrophic processes are dominant throughout the surface ecosystem, and carbon fixation may be key down channel. δ[superscript 15]N ratios ~3‰, and absence of nifH in extracted DNA suggest that nitrogen fixation is not occurring in sediments. However, the presence of narG and nirS at most locations and in enrichments indicates genomic potential for nitrate and nitrite reduction. This small seep with shallow run-off is likely ephemeral, but abundant preserved microterracettes in the outflow and the surrounding area suggest it has been present for some time. This site and others like it present an opportunity for investigations of preserved deep biosphere signatures, and subsurface-surface interactions.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-01-19

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Coordinating Environmental Genomics and Geochemistry Reveals Metabolic Transitions in a Hot Spring Ecosystem

Description

We have constructed a conceptual model of biogeochemical cycles and metabolic and microbial community shifts within a hot spring ecosystem via coordinated analysis of the “Bison Pool” (BP) Environmental Genome

We have constructed a conceptual model of biogeochemical cycles and metabolic and microbial community shifts within a hot spring ecosystem via coordinated analysis of the “Bison Pool” (BP) Environmental Genome and a complementary contextual geochemical dataset of ∼75 geochemical parameters. 2,321 16S rRNA clones and 470 megabases of environmental sequence data were produced from biofilms at five sites along the outflow of BP, an alkaline hot spring in Sentinel Meadow (Lower Geyser Basin) of Yellowstone National Park. This channel acts as a >22 m gradient of decreasing temperature, increasing dissolved oxygen, and changing availability of biologically important chemical species, such as those containing nitrogen and sulfur. Microbial life at BP transitions from a 92°C chemotrophic streamer biofilm community in the BP source pool to a 56°C phototrophic mat community. We improved automated annotation of the BP environmental genomes using BLAST-based Markov clustering. We have also assigned environmental genome sequences to individual microbial community members by complementing traditional homology-based assignment with nucleotide word-usage algorithms, allowing more than 70% of all reads to be assigned to source organisms. This assignment yields high genome coverage in dominant community members, facilitating reconstruction of nearly complete metabolic profiles and in-depth analysis of the relation between geochemical and metabolic changes along the outflow. We show that changes in environmental conditions and energy availability are associated with dramatic shifts in microbial communities and metabolic function. We have also identified an organism constituting a novel phylum in a metabolic “transition” community, located physically between the chemotroph- and phototroph-dominated sites. The complementary analysis of biogeochemical and environmental genomic data from BP has allowed us to build ecosystem-based conceptual models for this hot spring, reconstructing whole metabolic networks in order to illuminate community roles in shaping and responding to geochemical variability.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012-06-04

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Calculation of the Relative Chemical Stabilities of Proteins as a Function of Temperature and Redox Chemistry in a Hot Spring

Description

Uncovering the chemical and physical links between natural environments and microbial communities is becoming increasingly amenable owing to geochemical observations and metagenomic sequencing. At the hot spring known as Bison

Uncovering the chemical and physical links between natural environments and microbial communities is becoming increasingly amenable owing to geochemical observations and metagenomic sequencing. At the hot spring known as Bison Pool in Yellowstone National Park, the cooling of the water in the outflow channel is associated with an increase in oxidation potential estimated from multiple field-based measurements. Representative groups of proteins whose sequences were derived from metagenomic data also exhibit an increase in average oxidation state of carbon in the protein molecules with distance from the hot-spring source. The energetic requirements of reactions to form selected proteins used in the model were computed using amino-acid group additivity for the standard molal thermodynamic properties of the proteins, and the relative chemical stabilities of the proteins were investigated by varying temperature, pH and oxidation state, expressed as activity of dissolved hydrogen. The relative stabilities of the proteins were found to track the locations of the sampling sites when the calculations included a function for hydrogen activity that increases with temperature and is higher, or more reducing, than values consistent with measurements of dissolved oxygen, sulfide and oxidation-reduction potential in the field. These findings imply that spatial patterns in the amino acid compositions of proteins can be linked, through energetics of overall chemical reactions representing the formation of the proteins, to the environmental conditions at this hot spring, even if microbial cells maintain considerably different internal conditions. Further applications of the thermodynamic calculations are possible for other natural microbial ecosystems.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011-08-11

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Prerequisites for explosive cryovolcanism on dwarf planet-class Kuiper belt objects

Description

Explosive extrusion of cold material from the interior of icy bodies, or cryovolcanism, has been observed on Enceladus and, perhaps, Europa, Triton, and Ceres. It may explain the observed evidence

Explosive extrusion of cold material from the interior of icy bodies, or cryovolcanism, has been observed on Enceladus and, perhaps, Europa, Triton, and Ceres. It may explain the observed evidence for a young surface on Charon (Pluto’s surface is masked by frosts). Here, we evaluate prerequisites for cryovolcanism on dwarf planet-class Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). We first review the likely spatial and temporal extent of subsurface liquid, proposed mechanisms to overcome the negative buoyancy of liquid water in ice, and the volatile inventory of KBOs. We then present a new geochemical equilibrium model for volatile exsolution and its ability to drive upward crack propagation. This novel approach bridges geophysics and geochemistry, and extends geochemical modeling to the seldom-explored realm of liquid water at subzero temperatures. We show that carbon monoxide (CO) is a key volatile for gas-driven fluid ascent; whereas CO[subscript 2] and sulfur gases only play a minor role. N[subscript 2], CH[subscript 4], and H[subscript 2] exsolution may also drive explosive cryovolcanism if hydrothermal activity produces these species in large amounts (a few percent with respect to water). Another important control on crack propagation is the internal structure: a hydrated core makes explosive cryovolcanism easier, but an undifferentiated crust does not. We briefly discuss other controls on ascent such as fluid freezing on crack walls, and outline theoretical advances necessary to better understand cryovolcanic processes. Finally, we make testable predictions for the 2015 New Horizons flyby of the Pluto-Charon system.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-01-15

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The Chemistry of Carbon in Aqueous Fluids at Crustal and Upper-Mantle Conditions: Experimental and Theoretical Constraints

Description

Carbon can be a major constituent of crustal and mantle uids, occurring both as dissolved ionic species (e.g., carbonate ions or organic acids) and molecular species (e.g., CO[subscript 2],

Carbon can be a major constituent of crustal and mantle uids, occurring both as dissolved ionic species (e.g., carbonate ions or organic acids) and molecular species (e.g., CO[subscript 2], CO, CH[subscript 4], and more complex organic compounds). The chemistry of dissolved carbon changes dramatically with pressure (P) and temperature (T). In aqueous uids at low P and T, molecular carbon gas species such as CO[subscript 2] and CH[subscript 4] saturate at low concentration to form a separate phase. With modest increases in P and T, these molecular species become fully miscible with H[subscript 2]O, enabling deep crustal and mantle uids to become highly concentrated in carbon. At such high concentrations, carbon species play an integral role as solvent components and, with H[subscript 2]O, control the mobility of rock-forming elements in a wide range of geologic settings. The migration of carbon-bearing crustal and mantle uids contributes to Earth’s carbon cycle; however, the mechanisms, magnitudes, and time variations of carbon transfer from depth to the surface remain least understood parts of the global carbon budget (Berner 1991, 1994; Berner and Kothavala 2001).

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013