Subseafloor Archaea reflect 139 kyrs of paleodepositional changes in the northern Red Sea

Kuldeep D. More, Cornelia Wuchter, Xabier Irigoien, Jessica E. Tierney, Liviu Giosan, Kliti Grice, Marco J.L. Coolen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The vertical distribution of subseafloor archaeal communities is thought to be primarily controlled by in situ conditions in sediments such as the availability of electron acceptors and donors, although sharp community shifts have also been observed at lithological boundaries suggesting that at least a subset of vertically stratified Archaea form a long-term genetic record of coinciding environmental conditions that occurred at the time of sediment deposition. To substantiate this possibility, we performed a highly resolved 16S rRNA gene survey of vertically stratified archaeal communities paired with paleo-oceanographic proxies in a sedimentary record from the northern Red Sea spanning the last glacial–interglacial cycle (i.e., marine isotope stages 1–6; MIS1-6). Our results show a strong significant correlation between subseafloor archaeal communities and drastic paleodepositional changes associated with glacial low vs. interglacial high stands (ANOSIM; R =.73; p =.001) and only a moderately strong correlation with lithological changes. Bathyarchaeota, Lokiarchaeota, MBGA, and DHVEG-1 were the most abundant identified archaeal groups. Whether they represented ancient cell lines from the time of deposition or migrated to the specific sedimentary horizons after deposition remains speculative. However, we show that the majority of sedimentary archaeal tetraether membrane lipids were of allochthonous origin and not produced in situ. Slow post-burial growth under energy-limited conditions would explain why the downcore distribution of these dominant archaeal groups still indirectly reflect changes in the paleodepositional environment that prevailed during the analyzed marine isotope stages. In addition, archaea seeded from the overlying water column such as Thaumarchaeota and group II and III Euryarchaeota, which were likely not have been able to subsist after burial, were identified from a lower abundance of preserved sedimentary DNA signatures, and represented direct markers of paleoenvironmental changes in the Red Sea spanning the last six marine isotope stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-172
Number of pages11
JournalGeobiology
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • glacial–interglacial cycles
  • marine isotope stages
  • paleo-environment
  • paleoecology
  • paleome
  • subsurface archaea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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