2022, MSystems, 7(4), e00328-22

Frouin, E., Lecoeuvre, A., Armougom, F., Schrenk, M. O., & Erauso, G.


Serpentinizing hydrothermal systems result from water circulating into the subsurface and interacting with mantle-derived rocks notably near mid-ocean ridges or continental ophiolites. Serpentinization and associated reactions produce alkaline fluids enriched in molecular hydrogen, methane, and small organic molecules that are assumed to feed microbial inhabitants. In this study, we explored the relationships linking serpentinization to associated microbial communities by comparative metagenomics of serpentinite-hosted systems, basalt-hosted vents, and hot springs. The shallow Prony bay hydrothermal field (PBHF) microbiome appeared to be more related to those of ophiolitic sites than to the Lost City hydrothermal field (LCHF) microbiome, probably because of the meteoric origin of its fluid, like terrestrial alkaline springs. This study emphasized the ubiquitous importance of a set of genes involved in the catabolism of phosphonates and highly enriched in all serpentinizing sites compared to other ecosystems. Because most of the serpentinizing systems are depleted in inorganic phosphate, the abundance of genes involved in the carbon-phosphorus lyase pathway suggests that the phosphonates constitute a source of phosphorus in these ecosystems. Additionally, hydrocarbons such as methane, released upon phosphonate catabolism, may contribute to the overall budget of organic molecules in serpentinizing systems.



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