SSU-rRNA Gene Sequencing Survey of Benthic Microbial Eukaryotes from Guaymas Basin Hydrothermal Vent. Academic Article uri icon


  • Microbial eukaryotes have important roles in marine food webs, but their diversity and activities in hydrothermal vent ecosystems are poorly characterized. In this study, we analyzed microbial eukaryotic communities associated with bacterial (Beggiatoa) mats in the 2,000┬ám deep-sea Guaymas Basin hydrothermal vent system using 18S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing of the V4 region. We detected 6,954 distinct Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) across various mat systems. Of the sequences that aligned with known protistan phylotypes, most were affiliated with alveolates (especially dinoflagellates and ciliates) and cercozoans. OTU richness and community structure differed among sediment habitats (e.g. different mat types and cold sediments away from mats). Additionally, full-length 18S rRNA genes amplified and cloned from single cells revealed the identities of some of the most commonly encountered, active ciliates in this hydrothermal vent ecosystem. Observations and experiments were also conducted to demonstrate that ciliates were trophically active and ingesting fluorescent bacteria or Beggiatoa trichomes. Our work suggests that the active and diverse protistan community at the Guaymas Basin hydrothermal vent ecosystem likely consumes substantial amounts of bacterial biomass, and that the different habitats, often defined by distances of just a few 10s of cm, select for particular assemblages and levels of diversity.

publication date

  • July 2019