The microbial diversity associated with diffuse venting deep-sea hydrothermal deposits is tightly coupled to the geochemistry of the hydrothermal fluids. Previous 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing (metabarcoding) of marine iron-hydroxide deposits along the Arctic Mid Ocean Ridge, revealed the presence of diverse bacterial communities associated with these deposits (Storesund and Øvreås in Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 104:569-584, 2013). One of the most abundant and diverse phyla detected was the enigmatic Planctomycetes. Here we report on the comparative analyses of the diversity and distribution patterns of Planctomycetes associated with metalliferous deposits from two diffuse-flow hydrothermal vent fields (Mariner and Vai Lili) from the Valu Fa Ridge in the Southwestern Pacific. Metabarcoding of 16S rRNA genes showed that the major prokaryotic phyla were Proteobacteria (51-73% of all 16S rRNA gene reads), Epsilonbacteraeota (0.5-19%), Bacteriodetes (5-17%), Planctomycetes (0.4-11%), Candidatus Latescibacteria (0-5%) and Marine Benthic Group E (Hydrothermarchaeota) (0-5%). The two different sampling sites differed considerably in overall community composition. The abundance of Planctomycetes also varied substantially between the samples and the sites, with the majority of the sequences affiliated with uncultivated members of the classes Planctomycetacia and Phycisphaerae, and other deep branching lineages. Seven different strains affiliated with the order Planctomycetales were isolated, mostly from the Vai Lili samples, where also the highest Planctomycetales diversity was seen. Most of the isolates were affiliated with the genera Gimesia, Rhodopirellula and Blastopirellula. One isolate was only distantly related to known cultured, but uncharacterized species within the Pir4 group. This study shows that the deep-sea Planctomycetes represent a very heterogeneous group with a high phylogenetic diversity and a substantial potential for novel organism discovery in these deep ocean environments.
Keywords: Diffuse hydrothermal vent system; High throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing; Iron hydroxide deposits; Isolation; Planctomycetes.