Comparative community gene expression analysis of Aquificales-dominated geothermal springs

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Abstract

Members ofSulfurihydrogenibiumare often observed as visible filamentous biomass in circumneutral hot springs and play roles in sulfur-cycling, hydrogen oxidation and iron mineralization. To gain insight into the ecophysiology ofSulfurihydrogenibiumpopulations, we conducted preliminary metatranscriptomic analysis of three distinct thermal springs; Calcite Springs (YNP-CS) and Mammoth Springs (YNP-MHS) in Yellowstone National Park, USA, and Furnas Springs (AZ) in Azores, Portugal. Genes to which transcripts were assigned revealed commonly expressed functions among the sites, while several differences were also observed. All three sites,Sulfurihydrogenibiumspp. dominate and are obtaining energy via metabolism of sulfur compounds under microaerophilic conditions. Cell motility was one of the expressed functions in two sites (YNP-CS and AZ) with slower stream flow rates and thicker well-formed biofilms. The transcripts from YNP-CS and -MHS exhibited varying levels of sequence divergence from the reference genomes and corresponding metagenomes, suggesting the presence of microdiversity amongSulfurihydrogenibiumpopulationsin situ. Conversely, the majority of the AZ transcripts were identical to theS. azorensegenome. Our initial results show that the metatranscriptomes in these similar Aquificales-dominated communities can reveal community-level gene function in geochemically distinct thermal environments.

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