An original research article on Basalt-Hosted Microbial Communities in the Subsurface of the Young Volcanic Island of Surtsey, Iceland

Tengiliður

Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. nemi

paulineb@matis.is

A team of Matís scientists, in partnership with the University of Iceland and the University of Utah, has recently published a new original research article called „Basalt-Hosted Microbial Communities in the Subsurface of the Young Volcanic Island of Surtsey, Iceland“. The article appeared in Frontiers in Microbiology.

The team consisted of five scientists from Matís’ Microbiology research group; Pauline Bergsten, Pauline Vannier, Alexandra María Klonowski, Stephen Knobloch and Viggó Marteinsson and they wrote the article along with Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson from the university of Iceland and Marie Dolores Jackson from the University of Utah.

The abstract of the article is here below and you can read the full text here:

Basalt-Hosted Microbial Communities in the Subsurface of the Young Volcanic Island of Surtsey, Iceland

The island of Surtsey was formed in 1963–1967 on the offshore Icelandic volcanic rift zone. It offers a unique opportunity to study the subsurface biosphere in newly formed oceanic crust and an associated hydrothermal-seawater system, whose maximum temperature is currently above 120°C at about 100 m below surface. Here, we present new insights into the diversity, distribution, and abundance of microorganisms in the subsurface of the island, 50 years after its creation. Samples, including basaltic tuff drill cores and associated fluids acquired at successive depths as well as surface fumes from fumaroles, were collected during expedition 5059 of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program specifically designed to collect microbiological samples. Results of this microbial survey are investigated with 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and scanning electron microscopy. To distinguish endemic microbial taxa of subsurface rocks from potential contaminants present in the drilling fluid, we use both methodological and computational strategies. Our 16S rRNA gene analysis results expose diverse and distinct microbial communities in the drill cores and the borehole fluid samples, which harbor thermophiles in high abundance. Whereas some taxonomic lineages detected across these habitats remain uncharacterized (e.g., Acetothermiia, Ammonifexales), our results highlight potential residents of the subsurface that could be identified at lower taxonomic rank such as Thermaerobacter, BRH-c8a (Desulfallas-Sporotomaculum), Thioalkalimicrobium, and Sulfurospirillum. Microscopy images reveal possible biotic structures attached to the basaltic substrate. Finally, microbial colonization of the newly formed basaltic crust and the metabolic potential are discussed on the basis of the data.