Iron oxidizers are widespread in marine environments and play an important role in marine iron cycling. However, little is known about the overall distribution of iron oxidizers within hydrothermal systems, including settings with little hydrothermal activity. Moreover, the extent to which different phylogenetic groups of iron oxidizers exhibit niche specialization toward different environmental settings, remains largely unknown. Obtaining such knowledge is critical to unraveling the impact of the activity of iron oxidizers and how they are adapted. Here, we used 16S rRNA sequencing to characterize the distribution of iron oxidizers in different environmental settings within the Jan Mayen hydrothermal vent fields (JMVFs). Putative iron oxidizers affiliated to Zetaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria were detected within iron mounds, bottom seawater, basalt surfaces, and surface layers of sediments. The detected iron oxidizers were compared to sequence types previously observed in patchily distributed iron mats associated with diffuse venting at the JMVFs. Most OTUs of iron oxidizers reoccurred under different environmental settings, suggesting a limited degree of niche specialization. Consequently, most of the detected iron oxidizers seem to be generalists with a large habitat range. Our study highlights the importance of gathering information about the overall distribution of iron oxidizers in hydrothermal systems to fully understand the role of this metabolic group regarding cycling of iron. Furthermore, our results provide further evidence of the presence of iron-oxidizing members of Betaproteobacteria in marine environments.
Keywords: Betaproteobacteria; Zetaproteobacteria; hydrothermal systems; iron oxidizers; microbial ecology.