Viruses-to-mobile genetic elements skew in the deep Atlantis II brine pool sediments

Mustafa Adel, Ali H. A. Elbehery, Sherry K. Aziz, Ramy K. Aziz, Hans-Peter Grossart, Rania Siam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The central rift of the Red Sea has 25 brine pools with different physical and geochemical characteristics. Atlantis II (ATIID), Discovery Deeps (DD) and Chain Deep (CD) are characterized by high salinity, temperature and metal content. Several studies reported microbial communities in these brine pools, but few studies addressed the brine pool sediments. Therefore, sediment cores were collected from ATIID, DD, CD brine pools and an adjacent brine-influenced site. Sixteen different lithologic sediment sections were subjected to shotgun DNA pyrosequencing to generate 1.47 billion base pairs (1.47 × 109 bp). We generated sediment-specific reads and attempted to annotate all reads. We report the phylogenetic and biochemical uniqueness of the deepest ATIID sulfur-rich brine pool sediments. In contrary to all other sediment sections, bacteria dominate the deepest ATIID sulfur-rich brine pool sediments. This decrease in virus-to-bacteria ratio in selected sections and depth coincided with an overrepresentation of mobile genetic elements. Skewing in the composition of viruses-to-mobile genetic elements may uniquely contribute to the distinct microbial consortium in sediments in proximity to hydrothermally active vents of the Red Sea and possibly in their surroundings, through differential horizontal gene transfer.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 6 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): SA-C0039
Acknowledgements: This work was initially supported by King Abdullah University for Science and Technology Global Collaborative Partners (GCR) program (Award Number: SA-C0039). The work was funded by an American University in Cairo Faculty (Research) Support Grant to RS. We thank the crew and scientists on board the KAUST Red Sea Expedition in spring 2010, in particular chief scientist Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem. We acknowledge Professor Hamza El-Dorry, of the American University in Cairo, for help with the initial study design. We also thank Amged Ouf and Dr. Ahmed Abdelaziz of the American University in Cairo for DNA preparation.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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