Microbial diversity in deep-sea sediment from the cobalt-rich crust deposit region in the Pacific Ocean
Liao L, Xu XW, Jiang XW, Wang CS, Zhang DS, Ni JY, Wu M
College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
Cobalt-rich crusts are important metallic mineral resources with great economic potential, usually distributed on seamounts located in the Pacific Ocean. Microorganisms are believed to play a role in the formation of crusts as well as in metal cycling. To explore the microbial diversity related to cobalt-rich crusts, 16S ribosomal RNA gene clone libraries were constructed from three consecutive sediment layers. In total, 417 bacterial clones were obtained from three bacterial clone libraries, representing 17 distinct phylogenetic groups. Proteobacteria dominated in the bacterial communities, followed by Acidobacteria and Planctomycetes. Compared with high bacterial diversity, archaea showed a remarkably low diversity, with all 137 clones belonging to marine archaeal group I except one novel euryarchaeotal clone. The microbial communities were potentially involved in sulfur, nitrogen and metal cycling in the area of cobalt-rich crusts. Sulfur oxidation and metal oxidation were potentially major sources of energy for this ecosystem. This is the first reported investigation of microbial diversity in sediments associated with cobalt-rich crusts, and it casts fresh light on the microbial ecology of these important ecosystems.