, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 391-400

Microbial Diversity in Sediments Collected from the Deepest Cold-Seep Area, the Japan Trench

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Abstract:

The Japan Trench land slope at a depth of 6,400 m is the deepest cold-seep environment with Calyptogena communities. Sediment samples from inside and beside the Calyptogena communities were collected, and the microbial diversity in the sediment samples was studied by molecular phylogenetic techniques. From DNA extracted directly from the sediment samples, 16S rDNAs were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction method. The sequences of the amplified 16S rDNAs selected by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis were determined and compared with sequences in DNA databases. The results showed that 33 different bacterial 16S rDNA sequences from the two samples analyzed fell into similar phylogenetic categories, the α-, γ-, δ-, and ɛ-subdivisions of Proteobacteria, Cytophaga, and gram-positive bacteria; some of the 16S rDNA sequences were common to both samples. δ- and ɛ-Proteobacteria-related sequences were abundant in both sediments. These sequences are mostly related to sulfate-reducing or sulfur-reducing bacteria and epibionts, respectively. Eight different archaeal 16S rDNA sequences were cloned from the sediments. The majority of the archaeal 16S rDNA sequences clustered in Crenarchaeota and showed high similarities to marine group I archaeal rDNA. A Methanococcoides burtonii–related sequence obtained from the sediment clustered in the Euryarchaeota indicating that M. burtonii–related strains in the area of Calyptogena communities may contribute to production of methane in this environment. From these results, we propose a possible model of sulfur circulation within the microbial community and that of Calyptogena clams in the cold-seep environment.

Received June 15, 1998; accepted November 10, 1998.