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Bo Barker Jørgensen

Microbial organic matter degradation potential in Baltic Sea Sediments is influenced by depositional conditions and in situ geochemistry

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  • Laura A. Zinke, Texas A and M University - Corpus Christi, University of Southern California
  • ,
  • Clemens Glombitza
  • ,
  • Jordan T. Bird, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • ,
  • Hans Røy
  • Bo Barker Jørgensen
  • Karen G. Lloyd, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • ,
  • Jan P. Amend, University of Southern California
  • ,
  • Brandi Kiel Reese, Texas A and M University - Corpus Christi

Globally, marine sediments are a vast repository of organic matter, which is degraded through various microbial pathways, including polymer hydrolysis and monomer fermentation. The sources, abundances, and quality (i.e., labile or recalcitrant) of the organic matter and the composition of the microbial assemblages vary between sediments. Here, we examine new and previously published sediment metagenomes from the Baltic Sea and the nearby Kattegat region to determine connections between geochemistry and the community potential to degrade organic carbon. Diverse organic matter hydrolysis encoding genes were present in sediments between 0.25 and 67 meters below seafloor and were in higher relative abundances in those sediments that contained more organic matter. New analysis of previously published metatranscriptomes demonstrated that many of these genes were transcribed in two organic-rich Holocene sediments. Some of the variation in deduced pathways in the metagenomes correlated with carbon content and depositional conditions. Fermentation-related genes were found in all samples and encoded multiple fermentation pathways. Notably, genes involved in alcohol metabolism were amongst the most abundant of these genes, indicating that this is an important but underappreciated aspect of sediment carbon cycling. This study is a step towards a more complete understanding of microbial food webs and the impacts of depositional facies on present sedimentary microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02164-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

    Research areas

  • Baltic Sea, Heterotrophy, Microbial ecology, Sediment

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