Agilent 7890a gas chromatograph equipped with flame ionization detector
Global marine sediments harbor a large and highly diverse microbial biosphere, but the mechanism by which this biosphere is established during sediment burial is largely unknown. During burial in marine sediments, concentrations of easily-metabolized organic compounds and total microbial cell abundance decrease. However, it is unknown whether some microbial clades increase with depth. We show total population increases in 38 microbial families over 3 cm of sediment depth in the upper 7.5 cm of White Oak River (WOR) estuary sediments. Clades that increased with depth were more often associated with one or more of the following: anaerobes, uncultured, or common in deep marine sediments relative to those that decreased. Maximum doubling times (in situ steady state growth rates could be faster to balance cell decay) were estimated as 2-25 years by combining sedimentation rate with either quantitative PCR (qPCR) or the product of the Fraction Read Abundance of 16S rRNA genes and total Cell counts (FRAxC). Doubling times were within an order of magnitude of each other in two adjacent cores, as well as in two laboratory enrichments of Cape Lookout Bight (CLB), NC, sediments (average difference of 28 ± 19%). qPCR and FRAxC in sediment cores and laboratory enrichments produced similar doubling times for key deep subsurface uncultured clades Bathyarchaeota (8.7 ± 1.9 years) and Thermoprofundales/MBG-D (4.1 ± 0.7 years). We conclude that common deep subsurface microbial clades experience a narrow zone of growth in shallow sediments, offering an opportunity for selection of long-term subsistence traits after resuspension events.