The hydrothermal steam environment of Sasso Pisano (Italy) was selected to investigate the associated microbial community and its metabolic potential. In this context, 16S and 18S rRNA gene partial sequences of thermophilic prokaryotes and eukaryotes inhabiting hot springs and fumaroles as well as mesophilic microbes colonising soil and water were analysed by high-throughput amplicon sequencing. The eukaryotic and prokaryotic communities from hot environments clearly differ from reference microbial communities of colder soil sites, though Ktedonobacteria showed high abundances in various hot spring samples and a few soil samples. This indicates that the hydrothermal steam environments of Sasso Pisano represent not only a vast reservoir of thermophilic but also mesophilic members of this Chloroflexi class. Metabolic functional profiling revealed that the hot spring microbiome exhibits a higher capability to utilise methane and aromatic compounds and is more diverse in its sulphur and nitrogen metabolism than the mesophilic soil microbial consortium. In addition, heavy metal resistance-conferring genes were significantly more abundant in the hot spring microbiome. The eukaryotic diversity at a fumarole indicated high abundances of primary producers (unicellular red algae: Cyanidiales), consumers (Arthropoda: Collembola sp.), and endoparasite Apicomplexa (Gregarina sp.), which helps to hypothesise a simplified food web at this hot and extremely nutrient-deprived acidic environment.
Keywords: 16S rRNA gene; 18S rRNA gene; Sasso Pisano; fumarole; hot vents; microbial diversity.