Comparison of Thaumarchaeotal populations from four deep sea basins
The nitrogen cycle in the marine environment is strongly affected by ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarchaeota. In some marine settings, Thaumarchaeotes can comprise a large percentage of the prokaryotic population. To better understand the biogeographic patterns of Thaumarchaeotes, we sought to investigate differences in their abundance and phylogenetic diversity between geographically distinct basins. Samples were collected from four marine basins (The Caspian Sea, the Great Australian Bight, and the Central and Eastern Mediterranean). The concentration of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes and archaeal amoA genes were assessed using qPCR. Minimum entropy decomposition was used to elucidate the fine-scale diversity of Thaumarchaeotes. We demonstrated that there were significant differences in the abundance and diversity of Thaumarchaeotes between these four basins. The diversity of Thaumarchaeotal oligotypes differed between basins with many oligotypes only present in one of the four basins, which suggests that their distribution showed biogeographic patterning. There were also significant differences in Thaumarchaeotal community structure between these basins. This would suggest that geographically distant, yet geochemically similar basins may house distinct Thaumarchaeaotal populations. These findings suggest that Thaumarchaeota are very diverse and that biogeography in part contributes in determining the diversity and distribution of Thaumarchaeotes.