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Insights from the Metagenome of an Acid Salt Lake: The Role of Biology in an Extreme Depositional Environment

Johnson, Sarah Stewart and Chevrette, Marc Gerard and Ehlmann, Bethany L. and Benison, Kathleen Counter (2015) Insights from the Metagenome of an Acid Salt Lake: The Role of Biology in an Extreme Depositional Environment. PLoS ONE, 10 (4). Art. No. e0122869. ISSN 1932-6203. PMCID PMC4414474.

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The extremely acidic brine lakes of the Yilgarn Craton of Western Australia are home to some of the most biologically challenging waters on Earth. In this study, we employed metagenomic shotgun sequencing to generate a microbial profile of the depositional environment associated with the sulfur-rich sediments of one such lake. Of the 1.5 M high-quality reads generated, 0.25 M were mapped to protein features, which in turn provide new insights into the metabolic function of this community. In particular, 45 diverse genes associated with sulfur metabolism were identified, the majority of which were linked to either the conversion of sulfate to adenylylsulfate and the subsequent production of sulfide from sulfite or the oxidation of sulfide, elemental sulfur, and thiosulfate via the sulfur oxidation (Sox) system. This is the first metagenomic study of an acidic, hypersaline depositional environment, and we present evidence for a surprisingly high level of microbial diversity. Our findings also illuminate the possibility that we may be meaningfully underestimating the effects of biology on the chemistry of these sulfur-rich sediments, thereby influencing our understanding of past geobiological conditions that may have been present on Earth as well as early Mars.

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Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Additional Information:© 2015 Johnson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Received: September 12, 2014; Accepted: February 24, 2015; Published: April 29, 2015. Funding: This research was supported by a William F. Milton Fund grant to SSJ ( research/william-f-milton-fund). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank Melanie Mormile, Erez Aiden, Maya Bhatia, and Jeffrey Marlow for insightful comments on the manuscript, Elena Stamenova for skillful assistance in the laboratory, and the Geological Survey of Western Australia for generous support in acquiring samples. Author Contributions: Conceived and designed the experiments: SSJ. Performed the experiments: SSJ BLE. Analyzed the data: SSJ MGC BLE. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: SSJ MGC BLE KCB. Wrote the paper: SSJ MGC BLE KCB. Data Availability: The sequences are publicly available on the NCBI server under project ID PRJNA260488. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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William F. Milton FundUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
PubMed Central ID:PMC4414474
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150513-073312252
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Official Citation:Johnson SS, Chevrette MG, Ehlmann BL, Benison KC (2015) Insights from the Metagenome of an Acid Salt Lake: The Role of Biology in an Extreme Depositional Environment. PLoS ONE 10(4):e0122869. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122869
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:57472
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 May 2015 18:09
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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