Environmental Microbiology Reports
Published: June 28, 2021
C-DEBI Contribution Number: 569


Microbial gene expression in anoxic subseafloor sediment was recently explored in the Baltic Sea and the Peru Margin. Our analysis of these data reveals diverse transcripts encoding proteins associated with neutralization of reactive oxygen species, including catalase, which may provide an in situ source of oxygen. We also detect transcripts associated with oxidation of iron and sulfur, and with reduction of arsenate, selenate and nitrate. Given limited input of electron acceptors from outside the system, these results suggest that the microbial communities use an unexpectedly diverse variety of electron acceptors. Products of water radiolysis and their interactions with sediment continuously provide diverse electron acceptors and hydrogen. Cryptic microbial utilization of these oxidized substrates and H2 may be an important mechanism for multi-million-year survival under the extreme energy limitation in subseafloor sediment.