Publications by authors named "Richard Kevorkian"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

ANME-1 archaea may drive methane accumulation and removal in estuarine sediments.

Environ Microbiol Rep 2021 Apr 18;13(2):185-194. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.

ANME-1 archaea subsist on the very low energy of anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). Most marine sediments shift from net AOM in the sulfate methane transition zone (SMTZ) to methanogenesis in the methane zone (MZ) below it. In White Oak River estuarine sediments, ANME-1 comprised 99.5% of 16S rRNA genes from amplicons and 100% of 16S rRNA genes from metagenomes of the Methanomicrobia in the SMTZ and 99.9% and 98.3%, respectively, in the MZ. Each of the 16 ANME-1 OTUs (97% similarity) had peaks in the SMTZ that coincided with peaks of putative sulfate-reducing bacteria Desulfatiglans sp. and SEEP-SRB1. In the MZ, ANME-1, but none of the putative sulfate-reducing bacteria or cultured methanogens, increased with depth. Our meta-analysis of public data showed only ANME-1 expressed methanogenic genes during both net AOM and net methanogenesis in an enrichment culture. We conclude that ANME-1 perform AOM in the SMTZ and methanogenesis in the MZ of White Oak River sediments. This metabolic flexibility may expand habitable zones in extraterrestrial environments, since it enables greater energy yields in a fluctuating energetic landscape.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1758-2229.12926DOI Listing
April 2021

Evidence for a Growth Zone for Deep-Subsurface Microbial Clades in Near-Surface Anoxic Sediments.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2020 09 17;86(19). Epub 2020 Sep 17.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.

Global marine sediments harbor a large and highly diverse microbial biosphere, but the mechanism by which this biosphere is established during sediment burial is largely unknown. During burial in marine sediments, concentrations of easily metabolized organic compounds and total microbial cell abundance decrease. However, it is unknown whether some microbial clades increase with depth. We show total population increases in 38 microbial families over 3 cm of sediment depth in the upper 7.5 cm of White Oak River (WOR) estuary sediments. Clades that increased with depth were more often associated with one or more of the following: anaerobes, uncultured, or common in deep marine sediments relative to those that decreased. Maximum doubling times ( steady-state growth rates could be faster to balance cell decay) were estimated as 2 to 25 years by combining sedimentation rate with either quantitative PCR (qPCR) or the product of the fraction read abundance of 16S rRNA genes and total cell counts (FRAxC). Doubling times were within an order of magnitude of each other in two adjacent cores, as well as in two laboratory enrichments of Cape Lookout Bight (CLB), NC, sediments (average difference of 28% ± 19%). qPCR and FRAxC in sediment cores and laboratory enrichments produced similar doubling times for key deep subsurface uncultured clades (8.7 ± 1.9 years) and /MBG-D (4.1 ± 0.7 years). We conclude that common deep subsurface microbial clades experience a narrow zone of growth in shallow sediments, offering an opportunity for selection of long-term subsistence traits after resuspension events. Many studies show that the uncultured microbes that dominate global marine sediments do not actually increase in population size as they are buried in marine sediments; rather, they exist in a sort of prolonged torpor for thousands of years. This is because, although studies have shown biomass turnover in these clades, no evidence has ever been found that deeper sediments have larger populations for specific clades than shallower layers. We discovered that they actually do increase population sizes during burial, but only in the upper few centimeters. This suggests that marine sediments may be a vast repository of mostly nongrowing microbes with a thin and relatively rapid area of cell abundance increase in the upper 10 cm, offering a chance for subsurface organisms to undergo natural selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00877-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7499048PMC
September 2020

Mariana serpentinite mud volcanism exhumes subducted seamount materials: implications for the origin of life.

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci 2020 Feb 6;378(2165):20180425. Epub 2020 Jan 6.

Department of Subsurface Geobiological Analysis and Research (D-SUGAR), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

The subduction of seamounts and ridge features at convergent plate boundaries plays an important role in the deformation of the overriding plate and influences geochemical cycling and associated biological processes. Active serpentinization of forearc mantle and serpentinite mud volcanism on the Mariana forearc (between the trench and active volcanic arc) provides windows on subduction processes.  Here, we present (1) the first observation of an extensive exposure of an undeformed Cretaceous seamount currently being subducted at the Mariana Trench inner slope; (2) vertical deformation of the forearc region related to subduction of Pacific Plate seamounts and thickened crust; (3) recovered Ocean Drilling Program and International Ocean Discovery Program cores of serpentinite mudflows that confirm exhumation of various Pacific Plate lithologies, including subducted reef limestone; (4) petrologic, geochemical and paleontological data from the cores that show that Pacific Plate seamount exhumation covers greater spatial and temporal extents; (5) the inference that microbial communities associated with serpentinite mud volcanism may also be exhumed from the subducted plate seafloor and/or seamounts; and (6) the implications for effects of these processes with regard to evolution of life. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Serpentine in the Earth system'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2018.0425DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7015305PMC
February 2020

Kinetics and Identities of Extracellular Peptidases in Subsurface Sediments of the White Oak River Estuary, North Carolina.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2019 10 17;85(19). Epub 2019 Sep 17.

Department of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Anoxic subsurface sediments contain communities of heterotrophic microorganisms that metabolize organic carbon at extraordinarily low rates. In order to assess the mechanisms by which subsurface microorganisms access detrital sedimentary organic matter, we measured kinetics of a range of extracellular peptidases in anoxic sediments of the White Oak River Estuary, NC. Nine distinct peptidase substrates were enzymatically hydrolyzed at all depths. Potential peptidase activities ( ) decreased with increasing sediment depth, although expressed on a per-cell basis was approximately the same at all depths. Half-saturation constants ( ) decreased with depth, indicating peptidases that functioned more efficiently at low substrate concentrations. Potential activities of extracellular peptidases acting on molecules that are enriched in degraded organic matter (d-phenylalanine and l-ornithine) increased relative to enzymes that act on l-phenylalanine, further suggesting microbial community adaptation to access degraded organic matter. Nineteen classes of predicted, exported peptidases were identified in genomic data from the same site, of which genes for class C25 (gingipain-like) peptidases represented more than 40% at each depth. Methionine aminopeptidases, zinc carboxypeptidases, and class S24-like peptidases, which are involved in single-stranded-DNA repair, were also abundant. These results suggest a subsurface heterotrophic microbial community that primarily accesses low-quality detrital organic matter via a diverse suite of well-adapted extracellular enzymes. Burial of organic carbon in marine and estuarine sediments represents a long-term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Globally, ∼40% of organic carbon burial occurs in anoxic estuaries and deltaic systems. However, the ultimate controls on the amount of organic matter that is buried in sediments, versus oxidized into CO, are poorly constrained. In this study, we used a combination of enzyme assays and metagenomic analysis to identify how subsurface microbial communities catalyze the first step of proteinaceous organic carbon degradation. Our results show that microbial communities in deeper sediments are adapted to access molecules characteristic of degraded organic matter, suggesting that those heterotrophs are adapted to life in the subsurface.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00102-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6752024PMC
October 2019

Estimating Population Turnover Rates by Relative Quantification Methods Reveals Microbial Dynamics in Marine Sediment.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2018 Jan 15;84(1). Epub 2017 Dec 15.

Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

The difficulty involved in quantifying biogeochemically significant microbes in marine sediments limits our ability to assess interspecific interactions, population turnover times, and niches of uncultured taxa. We incubated surface sediments from Cape Lookout Bight, North Carolina, USA, anoxically at 21°C for 122 days. Sulfate decreased until day 68, after which methane increased, with hydrogen concentrations consistent with the predicted values of an electron donor exerting thermodynamic control. We measured turnover times using two relative quantification methods, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and the product of 16S gene read abundance and total cell abundance (FRAxC, which stands for "fraction of read abundance times cells"), to estimate the population turnover rates of uncultured clades. Most 16S rRNA reads were from deeply branching uncultured groups, and ∼98% of 16S rRNA genes did not abruptly shift in relative abundance when sulfate reduction gave way to methanogenesis. Uncultured and increased at the onset of methanogenesis with population turnover times estimated from qPCR at 9.7 ± 3.9 and 12.6 ± 4.1 days, respectively. These were consistent with FRAxC turnover times of 9.4 ± 5.8 and 9.2 ± 3.5 days, respectively. Uncultured , which are possibly fermentative syntrophs of methanogens, and uncultured Kazan-3A-21 archaea also increased at the onset of methanogenesis, with FRAxC turnover times of 14.7 ± 6.9 and 10.6 ± 3.6 days. Kazan-3A-21 may therefore either perform methanogenesis or form a fermentative syntrophy with methanogens. Three genera of sulfate-reducing bacteria, , , and , increased in the first 19 days before declining rapidly during sulfate reduction. We conclude that population turnover times on the order of days can be measured robustly in organic-rich marine sediment, and the transition from sulfate-reducing to methanogenic conditions stimulates growth only in a few clades directly involved in methanogenesis, rather than in the whole microbial community. Many microbes cannot be isolated in pure culture to determine their preferential growth conditions and predict their response to changing environmental conditions. We created a microcosm of marine sediments that allowed us to simulate a diagenetic profile using a temporal analog for depth. This allowed for the observation of the microbial community population dynamics caused by the natural shift from sulfate reduction to methanogenesis. Our research provides evidence for the population dynamics of uncultured microbes as well as the application of a novel method of turnover rate analysis for individual taxa within a mixed incubation, FRAxC, which stands for "fraction of read abundance times cells," which was verified by quantitative PCR. This allows for the calculation of population turnover times for microbes in a natural setting and the identification of uncultured clades involved in geochemical processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01443-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734028PMC
January 2018

Meta-analysis of quantification methods shows that archaea and bacteria have similar abundances in the subseafloor.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2013 Dec 4;79(24):7790-9. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.

There is no universally accepted method to quantify bacteria and archaea in seawater and marine sediments, and different methods have produced conflicting results with the same samples. To identify best practices, we compiled data from 65 studies, plus our own measurements, in which bacteria and archaea were quantified with fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), catalyzed reporter deposition FISH (CARD-FISH), polyribonucleotide FISH, or quantitative PCR (qPCR). To estimate efficiency, we defined "yield" to be the sum of bacteria and archaea counted by these techniques divided by the total number of cells. In seawater, the yield was high (median, 71%) and was similar for FISH, CARD-FISH, and polyribonucleotide FISH. In sediments, only measurements by CARD-FISH in which archaeal cells were permeabilized with proteinase K showed high yields (median, 84%). Therefore, the majority of cells in both environments appear to be alive, since they contain intact ribosomes. In sediments, the sum of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA gene qPCR counts was not closely related to cell counts, even after accounting for variations in copy numbers per genome. However, qPCR measurements were precise relative to other qPCR measurements made on the same samples. qPCR is therefore a reliable relative quantification method. Inconsistent results for the relative abundance of bacteria versus archaea in deep subsurface sediments were resolved by the removal of CARD-FISH measurements in which lysozyme was used to permeabilize archaeal cells and qPCR measurements which used ARCH516 as an archaeal primer or TaqMan probe. Data from best-practice methods showed that archaea and bacteria decreased as the depth in seawater and marine sediments increased, although archaea decreased more slowly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02090-13DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3837824PMC
December 2013
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