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      An Analysis of Thaumarchaeota Populations from the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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          We sampled Thaumarchaeota populations in the northern Gulf of Mexico, including shelf waters under the Mississippi River outflow plume that are subject to recurrent hypoxia. Data from this study allowed us to: (1) test the hypothesis that Thaumarchaeota would be abundant in this region; (2) assess phylogenetic composition of these populations for comparison with other regions; (3) compare the efficacy of quantitative PCR (qPCR) based on primers for 16S rRNA genes ( rrs) with primers for genes in the ammonia oxidation ( amoA) and carbon fixation ( accA, hcd) pathways; (4) compare distributions obtained by qPCR with the relative abundance of Thaumarchaeota rrs in pyrosequenced libraries; (5) compare Thaumarchaeota distributions with environmental variables to help us elucidate the factors responsible for the distributions; (6) compare the distribution of Thaumarchaeota with Nitrite-Oxidizing Bacteria (NOB) to gain insight into the coupling between ammonia and nitrite oxidation. We found up to 10 8 copies L −1 of Thaumarchaeota rrs in our samples (up to 40% of prokaryotes) by qPCR, with maximum abundance in slope waters at 200–800 m. Thaumarchaeota rrs were also abundant in pyrosequenced libraries and their relative abundance correlated well with values determined by qPCR ( r 2 = 0.82). Thaumarchaeota populations were strongly stratified by depth. Canonical correspondence analysis using a suite of environmental variables explained 92% of the variance in qPCR-estimated gene abundances. Thaumarchaeota rrs abundance was correlated with salinity and depth, while accA abundance correlated with fluorescence and pH. Correlations of Archaeal amoA abundance with environmental variables were primer-dependent, suggesting differential responses of sub-populations to environmental variables. Bacterial amoA was at the limit of qPCR detection in most samples. NOB and Euryarchaeota rrs were found in the pyrosequenced libraries; NOB distribution was correlated with that of Thaumarchaeota ( r 2 = 0.49).

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          Most cited references 65

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          Archaea in coastal marine environments.

          Archaea (archaebacteria) are a phenotypically diverse group of microorganisms that share a common evolutionary history. There are four general phenotypic groups of archaea: the methanogens, the extreme halophiles, the sulfate-reducing archaea, and the extreme thermophiles. In the marine environment, archaeal habitats are generally limited to shallow or deep-sea anaerobic sediments (free-living and endosymbiotic methanogens), hot springs or deep-sea hydrothermal vents (methanogens, sulfate reducers, and extreme thermophiles), and highly saline land-locked seas (halophiles). This report provides evidence for the widespread occurrence of unusual archaea in oxygenated coastal surface waters of North America. Quantitative estimates indicated that up to 2% of the total ribosomal RNA extracted from coastal bacterioplankton assemblages was archaeal. Archaeal small-subunit ribosomal RNA-encoding DNAs (rDNAs) were cloned from mixed bacterioplankton populations collected at geographically distant sampling sites. Phylogenetic and nucleotide signature analyses of these cloned rDNAs revealed the presence of two lineages of archaea, each sharing the diagnostic signatures and structural features previously established for the domain Archaea. Both of these lineages were found in bacterioplankton populations collected off the east and west coasts of North America. The abundance and distribution of these archaea in oxic coastal surface waters suggests that these microorganisms represent undescribed physiological types of archaea, which reside and compete with aerobic, mesophilic eubacteria in marine coastal environments.
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            Ubiquity and diversity of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in water columns and sediments of the ocean.

            Nitrification, the microbial oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate, occurs in a wide variety of environments and plays a central role in the global nitrogen cycle. Catalyzed by the enzyme ammonia monooxygenase, the ability to oxidize ammonia was previously thought to be restricted to a few groups within the beta- and gamma-Proteobacteria. However, recent metagenomic studies have revealed the existence of unique ammonia monooxygenase alpha-subunit (amoA) genes derived from uncultivated, nonextremophilic Crenarchaeota. Here, we report molecular evidence for the widespread presence of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in marine water columns and sediments. Using PCR primers designed to specifically target archaeal amoA, we find AOA to be pervasive in areas of the ocean that are critical for the global nitrogen cycle, including the base of the euphotic zone, suboxic water columns, and estuarine and coastal sediments. Diverse and distinct AOA communities are associated with each of these habitats, with little overlap between water columns and sediments. Within marine sediments, most AOA sequences are unique to individual sampling locations, whereas a small number of sequences are evidently cosmopolitan in distribution. Considering the abundance of nonextremophilic archaea in the ocean, our results suggest that AOA may play a significant, but previously unrecognized, role in the global nitrogen cycle.
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              Fast UniFrac: Facilitating high-throughput phylogenetic analyses of microbial communities including analysis of pyrosequencing and PhyloChip data

              Next-generation sequencing techniques, and PhyloChip, have made simultaneous phylogenetic analyses of hundreds of microbial communities possible. Insight into community structure has been limited by the inability to integrate and visualize such vast datasets. Fast UniFrac overcomes these issues, allowing integration of larger numbers of sequences and samples into a single analysis. Its new array-based implementation offers orders of magnitude improvements over the original version. New 3D visualization of principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) results, with the option to view multiple coordinate axes simultaneously, provides a powerful way to quickly identify patterns that relate vast numbers of microbial communities. We demonstrate the potential of Fast UniFrac using examples from three data types: Sanger-sequencing studies of diverse free-living and animal-associated bacterial assemblages and from the gut of obese humans as they diet, pyrosequencing data integrated from studies of the human hand and gut, and PhyloChip data from a study of citrus pathogens. We show that a Fast UniFrac analysis using a reference tree recaptures patterns that could not be detected without considering phylogenetic relationships and that Fast UniFrac, coupled with BLAST-based sequence assignment, can be used to quickly analyze pyrosequencing runs containing hundreds of thousands of sequences, revealing patterns relating human and gut samples. Finally, we show that the application of Fast UniFrac to PhyloChip data could identify well-defined subcategories associated with infection. Together, these case studies point the way towards a broad range of applications and demonstrate some of the new features of Fast UniFrac.

                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                09 April 2013
                : 4
                1Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia Athens, GA, USA
                2Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia Athens, GA, USA
                3Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Peter R. Girguis, Harvard University, USA

                Reviewed by: Matthew Church, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA; Victoria J. Bertics, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Germany

                *Correspondence: James T. Hollibaugh, Department of Marine Sciences, 211 Marine Sciences Building, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-3636, USA. e-mail: aquadoc@ 123456uga.edu

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology, a specialty of Frontiers in Microbiology.

                Copyright © 2013 Tolar, King and Hollibaugh.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 17, Tables: 9, Equations: 0, References: 89, Pages: 36, Words: 16005
                Original Research


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