Changes in northern Gulf of Mexico sediment bacterial and archaeal communities exposed to hypoxia

Geobiology. 2015 Sep;13(5):478-93. doi: 10.1111/gbi.12142. Epub 2015 May 5.


Biogeochemical changes in marine sediments during coastal water hypoxia are well described, but less is known about underlying changes in microbial communities. Bacterial and archaeal communities in Louisiana continental shelf (LCS) hypoxic zone sediments were characterized by pyrosequencing 16S rRNA V4-region gene fragments obtained by PCR amplification of community genomic DNA with bacterial- or archaeal-specific primers. Duplicate LCS sediment cores collected during hypoxia had higher concentrations of Fe(II), and dissolved inorganic carbon, phosphate, and ammonium than cores collected when overlying water oxygen concentrations were normal. Pyrosequencing yielded 158,686 bacterial and 225,591 archaeal sequences from 20 sediment samples, representing five 2-cm depth intervals in the duplicate cores. Bacterial communities grouped by sampling date and sediment depth in a neighbor-joining analysis using Chao-Jaccard shared species values. Redundancy analysis indicated that variance in bacterial communities was mainly associated with differences in sediment chemistry between oxic and hypoxic water column conditions. Gammaproteobacteria (26.5%) were most prominent among bacterial sequences, followed by Firmicutes (9.6%), and Alphaproteobacteria (5.6%). Crenarchaeotal, thaumarchaeotal, and euryarchaeotal lineages accounted for 57%, 27%, and 16% of archaeal sequences, respectively. In Thaumarchaeota Marine Group I, sequences were 96-99% identical to the Nitrosopumilus maritimus SCM1 sequence, were highest in surficial sediments, and accounted for 31% of archaeal sequences when waters were normoxic vs. 13% of archaeal sequences when waters were hypoxic. Redundancy analysis showed Nitrosopumilus-related sequence abundance was correlated with high solid-phase Fe(III) concentrations, whereas most of the remaining archaeal clusters were not. In contrast, crenarchaeotal sequences were from phylogenetically diverse lineages, differed little in relative abundance between sampling times, and increased to high relative abundance with sediment depth. These results provide further evidence that marine sediment microbial community composition can be structured according to sediment chemistry and suggest the expansion of hypoxia in coastal waters may alter sediment microbial communities involved in carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonium Compounds / analysis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Archaea / classification*
  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Biota*
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • DNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Iron / analysis
  • Louisiana
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphates / analysis
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Ammonium Compounds
  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Phosphates
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Carbon
  • Iron

Associated data

  • SRA/SRP015731
  • SRA/SRP047025