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Microbial Diversity in Sub-Seafloor Sediments from the Costa Rica Margin

Department of Biology, Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA 15940, USA
Department of Geosciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Department of Biology, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424, USA
Department of Biology, Willamette University, Salem, OR 97301, USA
School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(5), 218;
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 11 May 2019 / Published: 13 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tracking the Deep Biosphere through Time)
PDF [1588 KB, uploaded 13 May 2019]


The exploration of the deep biosphere continues to reveal a great diversity of microorganisms, many of which remain poorly understood. This study provides a first look at the microbial community composition of the Costa Rica Margin sub-seafloor from two sites on the upper plate of the subduction zone, between the Cocos and Caribbean plates. Despite being in close geographical proximity, with similar lithologies, both sites show distinctions in the relative abundance of the archaeal domain and major microbial phyla, assessed using a pair of universal primers and supported by the sequencing of six metagenomes. Elusimicrobia, Chloroflexi, Aerophobetes, Actinobacteria, Lokiarchaeota, and Atribacteria were dominant phyla at Site 1378, and Bathyarchaeota, Chloroflexi, Hadesarchaeota, Aerophobetes, Elusimicrobia, and Lokiarchaeota were dominant at Site 1379. Correlations of microbial taxa with geochemistry were examined and notable relationships were seen with ammonia, sulfate, and depth. With deep sediments, there is always a concern that drilling technologies impact analyses due to contamination of the sediments via drilling fluid. Here, we use analysis of the drilling fluid in conjunction with the sediment analysis, to assess the level of contamination and remove any problematic sequences. In the majority of samples, we find the level of drilling fluid contamination, negligible. View Full-Text
Keywords: subsurface; sediment; bacteria; archaea; deep biosphere subsurface; sediment; bacteria; archaea; deep biosphere

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Martino, A.; Rhodes, M.E.; León-Zayas, R.; Valente, I.E.; Biddle, J.F.; House, C.H. Microbial Diversity in Sub-Seafloor Sediments from the Costa Rica Margin. Geosciences 2019, 9, 218.

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