Purpose: Tyro is a deep hypersaline anoxic basin (DHAB) located at the seafloor of the Eastern Mediterranean sea. Tyro hosts a stratified eukaryotic microbiome moving from seawater to the brine, but no reports are available on its prokaryotic community. We provide the first snapshot of the bacterial community structure in Tyro brine, seawater-brine interface, and the overlaying deep seawater. Methods: In this study, we combined the use of molecular analyses, i.e., DNA fingerprinting and 16S rRNA pyrosequencing for the description of the bacterial community structure and taxonomy. PiCRUST2 was used to infer information on the prokaryotes functional diversity. A culture-dependent approach was applied to enrich bacteria of interest for marine biotechnology. Results: Bacterial communities sharply clustered moving from the seawater to the Tyro brine, in agreement with the abrupt increase of salinity values. Moreover, specific taxonomic groups inhabited the seawater-brine interface compared to the overlaying seawater and their identification revealed converging taxonomy with other DHABs in the Eastern Mediterranean sea. Functional traits inferred from the prokaryote taxonomy in the upper interface and the overlaying seawater indicated metabolic pathways for the synthesis of osmoprotectants, likely involved in bacterial adaptation to the steep increasing salinity. Metabolic traits related to methane and methylated compounds and to hydrocarbon degradation were also revealed in the upper interface of Tyro. The overall capability of the Tyro microbiome for hydrocarbon metabolism was confirmed by the isolation of hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria in the sediments. Conclusions: Our results suggest that Tyro seawater-brine interface hosts a specific microbiome adapted to the polyextreme condition typical of DHABs with potential metabolic features that could be further explored for the characterization of the metabolic network connecting the brine with the deep seawater through the chemocline. Moreover, Tyro could be a reservoir of culturable microbes endowed with functionalities of interest for biotechnological applications like hydrocarbon bioremediation.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-03-10
Acknowledgements: We thank the master and crew of the R/V Urania for excellent technical assistance during sampling activities.