Microbiology and geochemistry of great boiling and mud hot springs in the United States Great Basin
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A coordinated study of water chemistry, sediment mineralogy, and sediment microbial community was conducted on four >73°C springs in the northwestern Great Basin. Despite generally similar chemistry and mineralogy, springs with short residence time (~5–20 min) were rich in reduced chemistry, whereas springs with long residence time (>1 day) accumulated oxygen and oxidized nitrogen species. The presence of oxygen suggested that aerobic metabolisms prevail in the water and surface sediment. However, Gibbs free energy calculations using empirical chemistry data suggested that several inorganic electron donors were similarly favorable. Analysis of 298 bacterial 16S rDNAs identified 36 species-level phylotypes, 14 of which failed to affiliate with cultivated phyla. Highly represented phylotypes included Thermus, Thermotoga, a member of candidate phylum OP1, and two deeply branching Chloroflexi. The 276 archaeal 16S rDNAs represented 28 phylotypes, most of which were Crenarchaeota unrelated to the Thermoprotei. The most abundant archaeal phylotype was closely related to “Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii”, suggesting a role for ammonia oxidation in primary production; however, few other phylotypes could be linked with energy calculations because phylotypes were either related to chemoorganotrophs or were unrelated to known organisms.