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Title: Hypersaline sapropels act as hotspots for microbial dark matter

Present-day terrestrial analogue sites are crucial ground truth proxies for studying life in geochemical conditions close to those assumed to be present on early Earth or inferred to exist on other celestial bodies (e.g. Mars, Europa). Although hypersaline sapropels are border-of-life habitats with moderate occurrence, their microbiological and physicochemical characterization lags behind. Here, we study the diversity of life under low water activity by describing the prokaryotic communities from two disparate hypersaline sapropels (Transylvanian Basin, Romania) in relation to geochemical milieu and pore water chemistry, while inferring their role in carbon cycling by matching taxa to known taxon-specific biogeochemical functions. Furthermore, the polyphasic approach combined deep coverage SSU rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and bioinformatics with RT-qPCR and physicochemical investigations. We found that sapropels developed an analogous elemental milieu and harbored prokaryotes affiliated with fifty-nine phyla, among which the most abundant were Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Chloroflexi. Containing thirty-two candidate divisions and possibly undocumented prokaryotic lineages, the hypersaline sapropels were found to accommodate one of the most diverse and novel ecosystems reported to date and may contribute to completing the phylogenetic branching of the tree of life.
Authors:
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [5] ;  [7] ;  [2] ;  [8] ; ORCiD logo [5]
  1. Babes-Bolyai Univ., Cluj-Napoca (Romania); Biology Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic)
  2. National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences (NIRDBS), Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Interstitial Genomics, LLC, Longmont, CO (United States)
  4. Medical Univ. of Graz, Graz (Austria)
  5. Babes-Bolyai Univ., Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  6. Babes-Bolyai Univ., Cluj-Napoca (Romania); National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences (NIRDBS), Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  7. INCDO-INOE 2000, Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  8. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
OSTI Identifier:
1400156