Unveiling microbial activities along the halocline of Thetis, a deep-sea hypersaline anoxic basin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Deep-sea hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea are considered some of the most hostile environments on Earth. Little is known about the biochemical adaptations of microorganisms living in these habitats. This first metatranscriptome analysis of DHAB samples provides significant insights into shifts in metabolic activities of microorganisms as physicochemical conditions change from deep Mediterranean sea water to brine. The analysis of Thetis DHAB interface indicates that sulfate reduction occurs in both the upper (7.0-16.3% salinity) and lower (21.4-27.6%) halocline, but that expression of dissimilatory sulfate reductase is reduced in the more hypersaline lower halocline. High dark-carbon assimilation rates in the upper interface coincided with high abundance of transcripts for ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase affiliated to sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. In the lower interface, increased expression of genes associated with methane metabolism and osmoregulation is noted. In addition, in this layer, nitrogenase transcripts affiliated to uncultivated putative methanotrophic archaea were detected, implying nitrogen fixation in this anoxic habitat, and providing evidence of linked carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles.

publication date

  • December 2014