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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 50, No. 1 - Feature article
Satellite photograph of the Benguela Upwelling System; inset: a gravity core that has been retrieved from the sea floor Photo: NASA; inset: T. G. Ferdelman

Schäfer H, Ferdelman TG, Fossing H, Muyzer G


Microbial diversity in deep sediments of the Benguela Upwelling System


Deep-sea sediments constitute one of the largest habitats on Earth, yet studies of their microbial diversity are still scarce. In this study of a 9 m long sediment core from the Benguela Upwelling System, including the zone of anaerobic methane oxidation, several eury- and crenarchaeal populations were detected, none of which belonged to anaerobic methane-oxidizing Archaea (so-called ANME groups). Consortia of ANME Archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria have been detected extensively in sediments with high methane fluxes; however, they are often absent from deep sulfate-methane transition zones (SMTZ) of pelagic sediments. This observation underscores the possibility that phylogenetic groups other than ANME Archaea contribute to anaerobic methane oxidation and highlights the need for further studies on sub-seafloor sediments.


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