Distinctive Microbial Community Structure in Highly Stratified Deep-Sea Brine Water Columns

Salim Bougouffa, J. K. Yang, O. O. Lee, Y. Wang, Zenon B. Batang, Abdulaziz M. Al-Suwailem, P. Y. Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Atlantis II and Discovery are two hydrothermal and hypersaline deep-sea pools in the Red Sea rift that are characterized by strong thermohalo-stratification and temperatures steadily peaking near the bottom. We conducted comprehensive vertical profiling of the microbial populations in both pools and highlighted the influential environmental factors. Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA genes revealed shifts in community structures vis-à-vis depth. High diversity and low abundance were features of the deepest convective layers despite the low cell density. Surprisingly, the brine interfaces had significantly higher cell counts than the overlying deep-sea water, yet they were lowest in diversity. Vertical stratification of the bacterial populations was apparent as we moved from the Alphaproteobacteria-dominated deep sea to the Planctomycetaceae- or Deferribacteres-dominated interfaces to the Gammaproteobacteria-dominated brine layers. Archaeal marine group I was dominant in the deep-sea water and interfaces, while several euryarchaeotic groups increased in the brine. Across sites, microbial phylotypes and abundances varied substantially in the brine interface of Discovery compared with Atlantis II, despite the near-identical populations in the overlying deep-sea waters. The lowest convective layers harbored interestingly similar microbial communities, even though temperature and heavy metal concentrations were very different. Multivariate analysis indicated that temperature and salinity were the major influences shaping the communities. The harsh conditions and the low-abundance phylotypes could explain the observed correlation in the brine pools.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3425-3437
Number of pages13
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 29 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinctive Microbial Community Structure in Highly Stratified Deep-Sea Brine Water Columns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this