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Lipid biomarkers for anaerobic oxidation of methane and sulphate reduction in cold seep sediments of Nyegga pockmarks (Norwegian margin): discrepancies in contents and carbon isotope signatures
Chevalier, N.; Bouloubassi, I.; Stadnitskaia, A.; Taphanel, M.H.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2014). Lipid biomarkers for anaerobic oxidation of methane and sulphate reduction in cold seep sediments of Nyegga pockmarks (Norwegian margin): discrepancies in contents and carbon isotope signatures. Geo-Mar. Lett. 34(2-3): 269-280. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00367-014-0363-5
In: Geo-Marine Letters. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0276-0460, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Chevalier, N.
  • Bouloubassi, I.
  • Stadnitskaia, A., more
  • Taphanel, M.H.
  • Sinninghe Damsté, J.S., more

Abstract
    Distributions and carbon isotopic compositions of microbial lipid biomarkers were investigated in sediment cores from the G11 and G12 pockmarks in the Nyegga sector of the Storegga Slide on the mid-Norwegian margin to explore differences in depth zonation, type and carbon assimilation mode of anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea (ANMEs) and associated sulphate-reducing bacteria responsible for anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in these cold seep environments. While the G11 site is characterised by black reduced sediments colonized by gastropods and Siboglinidae tubeworms, the G12 site has black reduced sediments devoid of fauna but surrounded by a peripheral occurrence of gastropods and white filamentous microbial mats. At both sites, bulk sediments contained abundant archaeal and bacterial lipid biomarkers substantially depleted in C-13, consisting mainly of isoprenoidal hydrocarbons and dialkyl glycerol diethers, fatty acids and non-isoprenoidal monoalkylglycerol ethers. At the G11 site, down-core profiles revealed that lipid biomarkers were in maximum abundance from 10 cm depth to the core bottom at 16 cm depth, associated with delta C-13 values of -57 to -136aEuro degrees. At the G12 site, by contrast, lipid biomarkers were in high abundance in the upper 5 cm sediment layer, associated with delta C-13 values of -43 to -133aEuro degrees. This suggests that, as expected from the benthic fauna characteristics of the sites, AOM takes place mainly at depth in the G11 pockmark but just below the seafloor in the G12 pockmark. These patterns can be explained largely by variable fluid flow rates. Furthermore, at both sites, a dominance of ANME-2 archaea accompanied by their bacterial partners is inferred based on lipid biomarker distributions and carbon isotope signatures, which is in agreement with recently published DNA analyses for the G11 pockmark. However, the present data reveal high discrepancies in the contents and delta C-13 values for both archaeal and bacterial lipid profiles, implying the possible involvement of at least two distinct AOM-related microbial consortia at the inferred AOM depth zonation of G11 and G12 pockmark sediments. In both sediment cores, the delta C-13 profiles for most archaeal lipids suggest a direct assimilation of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in addition to methane by ANMEs (chemoautotrophy); constant and highly depleted delta C-13 profiles for PMI:3, an archaeal lipid biomarker presumably related to ANME-2, suggest a direct assimilation of C-13-depleted methane-derived carbon via AOM (methanotrophy). Evidently, the common approach of investigating lipid biomarker contents and delta C-13 signatures in cold seep sediments does not suffice to precisely discriminate between the carbon assimilation mode for each ANME archaeal group and associated bacteria. Rather, this needs to be combined with further specific labelling studies including different carbon sources (methane carbon, methane-derived organic intermediates and DIC) in order to unravel the metabolic pathways of each microbial consortium involved in AOM (ANME-1 vs. ANME-2 vs. ANME-3 archaeal group and associated bacteria).

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