Climate oscillations reflected within the microbiome of Arabian Sea sediments

William D. Orsi, Marco J. L. Coolen, Cornelia Wuchter, Lijun He, Kuldeep D. More, Xabier Irigoien, Guillem Chust, Carl Johnson, Jordon D. Hemingway, Mitchell Lee, Valier Galy, Liviu Giosan

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51 Scopus citations


Selection of microorganisms in marine sediment is shaped by energy-yielding electron acceptors for respiration that are depleted in vertical succession. However, some taxa have been reported to reflect past depositional conditions suggesting they have experienced weak selection after burial. In sediments underlying the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), we performed the first metagenomic profiling of sedimentary DNA at centennial-scale resolution in the context of a multi-proxy paleoclimate reconstruction. While vertical distributions of sulfate reducing bacteria and methanogens indicate energy-based selection typical of anoxic marine sediments, 5–15% of taxa per sample exhibit depth-independent stratigraphies indicative of paleoenvironmental selection over relatively short geological timescales. Despite being vertically separated, indicator taxa deposited under OMZ conditions were more similar to one another than those deposited in bioturbated intervals under intervening higher oxygen. The genomic potential for denitrification also correlated with palaeo-OMZ proxies, independent of sediment depth and available nitrate and nitrite. However, metagenomes revealed mixed acid and Entner-Dourdoroff fermentation pathways encoded by many of the same denitrifier groups. Fermentation thus may explain the subsistence of these facultatively anaerobic microbes whose stratigraphy follows changing paleoceanographic conditions. At least for certain taxa, our analysis provides evidence of their paleoenvironmental selection over the last glacial-interglacial cycle.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was primarily supported by NSF MGG Grant #1357017 to MJLC, VG, and LG, and the KAUST-WHOI Special Academic Partnership Program OCRF-SP-WHOI-2013 (grants 7000000463 to XI and 7000000464 to MJLC). Additional financial support was provided via a C-DEBI grant #OCE-0939564 to WDO. This is C-DEBI contribution # 358. Core collection was supported by NSF OCE Grant #0634731 to LG. We thank the co-chiefs Peter Clift and Tim Henstock as well as the scientific participants, captain and crew of the R/V Pelagia. We thank Tristan Horner and Jeremy Owens for discussions. Data has been deposited in the NCBI under BioProject ID PRJNA294382. Metagenomes are also available in MG RAST under accessions 4581719.3–4581790.3.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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