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The low-productivity South Pacific Gyre (SPG) is Earth's largest oceanic province. Its sediment accumulates extraordinarily slowly (0.1-1 m per million years). This sediment contains a living community that is characterized by very low biomass and very low metabolic activity. At every depth in cored SPG sediment, mean cell abundances are 3 to 4 orders of(More)
Two decades of scientific ocean drilling have demonstrated widespread microbial life in deep sub-seafloor sediment, and surprisingly high microbial-cell numbers. Despite the ubiquity of life in the deep biosphere, the large community sizes and the low energy fluxes in this vast buried ecosystem are not yet understood. It is not known whether organisms of(More)
Microbial communities can subsist at depth in marine sediments without fresh supply of organic matter for millions of years. At threshold sedimentation rates of 1 millimeter per 1000 years, the low rates of microbial community metabolism in the North Pacific Gyre allow sediments to remain oxygenated tens of meters below the sea floor. We found that the(More)
We investigated compositional relationships between bacterial communities in the water column and those in deep-sea sediment at three environmentally distinct Pacific sites (two in the Equatorial Pacific and one in the North Pacific Gyre). Through pyrosequencing of the v4-v6 hypervariable regions of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, we characterized 450,104(More)
Diverse microbial communities and numerous energy-yielding activities occur in deeply buried sediments of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Distributions of metabolic activities often deviate from the standard model. Rates of activities, cell concentrations, and populations of cultured bacteria vary consistently from one subseafloor environment to another. Net(More)
Global maps of sulfate and methane in marine sediments reveal two provinces of subsurface metabolic activity: a sulfate-rich open-ocean province, and an ocean-margin province where sulfate is limited to shallow sediments. Methane is produced in both regions but is abundant only in sulfate-depleted sediments. Metabolic activity is greatest in narrow zones of(More)
Subsurface microbial communities undertake many terminal electron-accepting processes, often simultaneously. Using a tritium-based assay, we measured the potential hydrogen oxidation catalyzed by hydrogenase enzymes in several subsurface sedimentary environments (Lake Van, Barents Sea, Equatorial Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico) with different predominant(More)
Hydrogen (H2) is produced in geological settings by dissociation of water due to radiation from radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium ((238)U, (235)U), thorium ((232)Th) and potassium ((40)K). To quantify the potential significance of radiolytic H2 as an electron donor for microbes within the South Pacific subseafloor basaltic aquifer, we use(More)