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Cold seep biogenic carbonate crust in the Levantine basin Is inhabited by burrowing Phascolosoma aff. turnerae, a sipunculan worm hosting a distinctive microbiota

May 22, 2014

Biogenic calcium carbonate crusts represent a cryptic habitat that is often associated with hydrocarbon seeps. Most biological observations of these crusts concern the external surfaces and the fauna inhabiting their inner cavities are generally neglected. Exposed carbonates in areas of active seepage at the 1100-m-deep base of the Palmachim slumping feature in the Levantine basin are intensively burrowed by metazoans, especially by sipunculans (peanut worms), identified by genetic and morphological markers as a potentially novel Phascolosoma sp., closely related to Phascolosoma turnerae ( Rice, 1985) and named here Phascolosoma aff. turnerae. Bacterial 16S-based tag encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) was utilized to analyze the bacterial community associated with P. aff. turnerae. We compared the bacterial community structure in P. aff. turnerae to the bacterial community structure associated with the sediment-water interface in adjacent gas seeps and in biofilm covering the carbonate crust hosting the sipunculan. A distinctive microbiota, capable of chemosynthesis and sulfide detoxification, was found in association with P. aff. turnerae.

Rubin-Blum M, Shemesh E, Goodman-Tchernov B, Coleman DF, Ben-Avraham Z, Tchernov D, in press: Cold seep biogenic carbonate crust in the Levantine basin is inhabited by burrowing Phascolosoma aff. turnerae, a sipunculan worm hosting a distinctive microbiota, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2014.04.014. Article (subscription required).

 

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