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Hydrogen-isotopic variability in fatty acids from Yellowstone National Park hot spring microbial communities

Osburn, Magdalena R. and Sessions, Alex L. and Pepe-Ranney, Charles and Spear, John R. (2011) Hydrogen-isotopic variability in fatty acids from Yellowstone National Park hot spring microbial communities. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75 (17). pp. 4830-4845. ISSN 0016-7037.

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We report the abundances and hydrogen-isotopic compositions (D/H ratios) of fatty acids extracted from hot-spring microbial mats in Yellowstone National Park. The terrestrial hydrothermal environment provides a useful system for studying D/H fractionations because the numerous microbial communities in and around the springs are visually distinct, separable, and less complex than those in many other aquatic environments. D/H fractionations between lipids and water ranged from −374‰ to +41‰ and showed systematic variations between different types of microbial communities. Lipids produced by chemoautotrophic hyperthermophilic bacteria, such as icosenoic acid (20:1), generally exhibited the largest and most variable fractionations from water (−374‰ to −165‰). This was in contrast to lipids characteristic of heterotrophs, such as branched, odd chain-length fatty acids, which had the smallest fractionations (−163‰ to +41‰). Mats dominated by photoautotrophs exhibited intermediate fractionations similar in magnitude to those expressed by higher plants. These data support the hypothesis that variations in lipid D/H are strongly influenced by central metabolic pathways. Shifts in the isotopic compositions of individual fatty acids across known ecological boundaries show that the isotopic signature of specific metabolisms can be recognized in modern environmental samples, and potentially recorded in ancient ones. Considering all sampled springs, the total range in D/H ratios is similar to that observed in marine sediments, suggesting that the trends observed here are not exclusive to the hydrothermal environment.

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Sessions, Alex L.0000-0001-6120-2763
Additional Information:© 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Received 12 January 2011; accepted in revised form 27 May 2011; available online 1 July 2011. This work was conducted under YNP scientific research and collecting permit YELL-2008-SCI-5664 for 2008 and 2009 with thanks to the Yellowstone Center for Resources. Funding was provided by NSF award EAR-0645502 to A.L.S., NSF GRFP to M.R.O. and Grant R-8196-G1 from US Air Force Office of Scientific Research to J.R.S. We thank the Agouron Institute supported International GeoBiology Summer Course for facilitating our 2008 field season, Lichun Zhang for technical assistance, and Roger Summons and Everett Shock for helpful discussions.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)R-8196-G1
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:17
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110930-080341629
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Official Citation:Magdalena R. Osburn, Alex L. Sessions, Charles Pepe-Ranney, John R. Spear, Hydrogen-isotopic variability in fatty acids from Yellowstone National Park hot spring microbial communities, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 75, Issue 17, 1 September 2011, Pages 4830-4845, ISSN 0016-7037, 10.1016/j.gca.2011.05.038. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:25506
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:30 Sep 2011 18:07
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 03:06

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