Viruses-to-mobile genetic elements skew in the deep Atlantis II brine pool sediments

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Biology Department

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Research Article

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Scientific Reports

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© The Author(s) 2016. The central rift of the Red Sea has 25 brine pools with different physical and geochemical characteristics. Atlantis II (ATIID), Discovery Deeps (DD) and Chain Deep (CD) are characterized by high salinity, temperature and metal content. Several studies reported microbial communities in these brine pools, but few studies addressed the brine pool sediments. Therefore, sediment cores were collected from ATIID, DD, CD brine pools and an adjacent brine-influenced site. Sixteen different lithologic sediment sections were subjected to shotgun DNA pyrosequencing to generate 1.47 billion base pairs (1.47 × 10 9 bp). We generated sediment-specific reads and attempted to annotate all reads. We report the phylogenetic and biochemical uniqueness of the deepest ATIID sulfur-rich brine pool sediments. In contrary to all other sediment sections, bacteria dominate the deepest ATIID sulfur-rich brine pool sediments. This decrease in virus-to-bacteria ratio in selected sections and depth coincided with an overrepresentation of mobile genetic elements. Skewing in the composition of viruses-to-mobile genetic elements may uniquely contribute to the distinct microbial consortium in sediments in proximity to hydrothermally active vents of the Red Sea and possibly in their surroundings, through differential horizontal gene transfer.

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