Research Summary: Structural and Functional Insights from the Metagenome of an Acidic Hot Spring Microbial Planktonic Community in the Colombian Andes


A taxonomic and annotated functional description of microbial life was deduced from 53 Mb of metagenomic sequence retrieved from a planktonic fraction of the Neotropical high Andean (3,973 meters above sea level) acidic hot spring El Coquito (EC). A classification of unassembled metagenomic reads using different databases showed a high proportion of Gammaproteobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria (in total read affiliation), and through taxonomic affiliation of 16S rRNA gene fragments we observed the presence of Proteobacteria, micro-algae chloroplast and Firmicutes. Reads mapped against the genomes Acidiphilium cryptum JF-5, Legionella pneumophila str. Corby and Acidithiobacillus caldus revealed the presence of transposase-like sequences, potentially involved in horizontal gene transfer. Functional annotation and hierarchical comparison with different datasets obtained by pyrosequencing in different ecosystems showed that the microbial community also contained extensive DNA repair systems, possibly to cope with ultraviolet radiation at such high altitudes. Analysis of genes involved in the nitrogen cycle indicated the presence of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to N2 (narGHI, nirS, norBCDQ and nosZ), associated with Proteobacteria-like sequences. Genes involved in the sulfur cycle (cysDN, cysNC and aprA) indicated adenylsulfate and sulfite production that were affiliated to several bacterial species. In summary, metagenomic sequence data provided insight regarding the structure and possible functions of this hot spring microbial community, describing some groups potentially involved in the nitrogen and sulfur cycling in this environment.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 14-December-2012

Author(s): Jiménez D., Andreote F., Chaves D., Montaña J., Osorio-Forero C., Junca H., Zambrano M., Baena S.


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