Department of Biology

Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Mark Lever

Exploration of cultivable fungal communities in deep coal-bearing sediments from ∼1.3 to 2.5 km below the ocean floor

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  • Chang Hong Liu, State Key of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Xin Huang, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Tian Ning Xie, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Ning Duan, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Ya Rong Xue, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Tan Xi Zhao, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Mark A. Lever
  • Kai Uwe Hinrichs, University of Bremen
  • ,
  • Fumio Inagaki, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

Although subseafloor sediments are known to harbour a vast number of microbial cells, the distribution, diversity, and origins of fungal populations remain largely unexplored. In this study, we cultivated fungi from 34 of 47 deep coal-associated sediment samples collected at depths ranging from 1289 to 2457 m below the seafloor (mbsf) off the Shimokita Peninsula, Japan (1118 m water depth). We obtained a total of 69 fungal isolates under strict contamination controls, representing 61 Ascomycota (14 genera, 23 species) and 8 Basidiomycota (4 genera, 4 species). Penicillium and Aspergillus relatives were the most dominant genera within the Ascomycetes, followed by the members of genera Cladosporium, Hamigera, Chaetomium, Eutypella, Acremonium, Aureobasidium, Candida, Eurotium, Exophiala, Nigrospora, Bionectria and Pseudocercosporella. Four Basidiomycota species were identified as genera Schizophyllum, Irpex, Bjerkandera and Termitomyces. Among these isolates, Cladosporium sphaerospermum and Aspergillus sydowii relatives were isolated from a thin lignite coal-sandstone formation at 2457 mbsf. Our results indicate that these cultivable fungal populations are indigenous, originating from past terrigenous environments, which have persisted, possibly as spores, through ∼20 million years of depositional history.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Pages (from-to)803-818
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), and IODP-China for providing an opportunity to explore the deep coal-bed biosphere off Shimokita during the IODP Expedition 337. We thank all crews, drilling team members, lab technicians and scientists on the drilling vessel Chikyu for supporting core sampling and measurements during Expedition 337. The authors thank Yusuke Kubo, the Expedition Project Manager for Expedition 337, for his coordination of this drilling project. This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31272081, 31471810), the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (20130091110036), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) Strategic Fund for Strengthening Leading-Edge Research and Development (to JAMSTEC), the JSPS Funding for Next Generation World-Leading Researchers (no. GR102 to F.I.), and the JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Science Research (26251041 to F.I.). The authors also acknowledge Wei-Li Hong and Nan Xiao who provided useful comments and discussions. This is a contribution to the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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