Interactions between Microbes and Dissolved Organic Matter at Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

Elizabeth Kujawinski Behn, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry
Stefan Sievert, Biology


*Funded through the DOEI and the Ocean Ridge Initiative


Deep‐sea hydrothermal vents are extreme environments characterized by high temperatures, high metal concentrations and strong redox gradients that support chemosynthesis.  The resident microbial communities, consequently, exhibit rare metabolisms that are the subject of significant biological studies.  Yet the composition and fate of organic compounds produced by hydrothermal microorganisms as well as the composition and fate of DOM more generally remains unexplored in these environments.

We plan to compare the composition of DOM in high‐ and low‐temperature vent fluids, as a function of temperature and microbial activity, to the composition of background seawater DOM and intracellular microbial metabolites. Our characterization techniques focus on the polar constituents of DOM, which have not been studied in this environment to date.  These results will be combined with genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics data from complementary NSF‐funded activities. Together, these integrated data will elucidate new connections between microbial activity and DOM at deep‐sea hydrothermal vents.