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Hydrocarbon seepage in the deep seabed links subsurface and seafloor biospheres

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Hydrocarbon seepage in the deep seabed links subsurface and seafloor biospheres Anirban Chakraborty, S. Emil Ruff, Xiyang Dong, Emily D. Ellefson, Carmen Li, James M. Brooks, Jayme McBee, Bernie B. Bernard, Casey R. J. HubertProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2020

From the paper:


The marine subsurface is one of the largest habitats on Earth composed exclusively of microorganisms and harboring on the order of 1029 microbial cells. It is unclear if deep subsurface life impacts overlying seafloor diversity and biogeochemical cycling in the deep ocean. We analyzed the microbial communities of 172 seafloor surface sediment samples, including gas and oil seeps as well as sediments not subject to upward fluid flow. A strong correlation between typical subsurface clades and active geofluid seepage suggests that subsurface life is injected into the deep ocean floor at hydrocarbon seeps, a globally widespread hydrogeological phenomenon. This supply of subsurface-derived microbial populations, biomass, and metabolic potential thus increases biodiversity and impacts carbon cycling in the deep ocean.


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