ISME J 2019 06 19;13(6):1546-1559. Epub 2019 Feb 19.
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Paleontology and Geobiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80333, Munich, Germany.
The benthos in estuarine environments often experiences periods of regularly occurring hypoxic and anoxic conditions, dramatically impacting biogeochemical cycles. How oxygen depletion affects the growth of specific uncultivated microbial populations within these diverse benthic communities, however, remains poorly understood. Here, we applied HO quantitative stable isotope probing (qSIP) in order to quantify the growth of diverse, uncultured bacterial populations in response to low oxygen concentrations in estuarine sediments. Over the course of 7- and 28-day incubations with redox conditions spanning from hypoxia to euxinia (sulfidic), O labeling of bacterial populations exhibited different patterns consistent with micro-aerophilic, anaerobic, facultative anaerobic, and aerotolerant anaerobic growth. O-labeled populations displaying anaerobic growth had a significantly non-random phylogenetic distribution, exhibited by numerous clades currently lacking cultured representatives within the Planctomycetes, Actinobacteria, Latescibacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Acidobacteria. Genes encoding the beta-subunit of the dissimilatory sulfate reductase (dsrB) became O labeled only during euxinic conditions. Sequencing of these O-labeled dsrB genes showed that Acidobacteria were the dominant group of growing sulfate-reducing bacteria, highlighting their importance for sulfur cycling in estuarine sediments. Our findings provide the first experimental constraints on the redox conditions underlying increased growth in several groups of "microbial dark matter", validating hypotheses put forth by earlier metagenomic studies.