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Metagenome of a Versatile Chemolithoautotroph from Expanding Oceanic Dead Zones

  • Author(s): Walsh, David A.
  • et al.
Abstract

Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), also known as oceanic "dead zones", are widespread oceanographic features currently expanding due to global warming and coastal eutrophication. Although inhospitable to metazoan life, OMZs support a thriving but cryptic microbiota whose combined metabolic activity is intimately connected to nutrient and trace gas cycling within the global ocean. Here we report time-resolved metagenomic analyses of a ubiquitous and abundant but uncultivated OMZ microbe (SUP05) closely related to chemoautotrophic gill symbionts of deep-sea clams and mussels. The SUP05 metagenome harbors a versatile repertoire of genes mediating autotrophic carbon assimilation, sulfur-oxidation and nitrate respiration responsive to a wide range of water column redox states. Thus, SUP05 plays integral roles in shaping nutrient and energy flow within oxygen-deficient oceanic waters via carbon sequestration, sulfide detoxification and biological nitrogen loss with important implications for marine productivity and atmospheric greenhouse control.

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