Front Microbiol 2017 13;8:1042. Epub 2017 Jun 13.
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA, United States.
Despite years of research into microbial activity at diffuse flow hydrothermal vents, the extent of microbial niche diversity in these settings is not known. To better understand the relationship between microbial activity and the associated physical and geochemical conditions, we obtained co-registered metatranscriptomic and geochemical data from a variety of different fluid regimes within the ASHES vent field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Microbial activity in the majority of the cool and warm fluids sampled was dominated by a population of (likely sulfur oxidizers) that appear to thrive in a variety of chemically distinct fluids. Only the warmest, most hydrothermally-influenced flows were dominated by active populations of canonically vent-endemic . These data suggest that the collected during this study may be generalists, capable of thriving over a broader range of geochemical conditions than the . Notably, the apparent metabolic activity of the -particularly carbon fixation-in the seawater found between discrete fluid flows (the intra-field water) suggests that this area within the Axial caldera is a highly productive, and previously overlooked, habitat. By extension, our findings suggest that analogous, diffuse flow fields may be similarly productive and thus constitute a very important and underappreciated aspect of deep-sea biogeochemical cycling that is occurring at the global scale.