Correlation between hydrogen isotope fractionation in fatty acids and carbon metabolism in pure cultures of bacteria indicates the potential of biomarker D/H analysis as a tool for diagnosing carbon substrate usage in environmental samples. However, most environments, in particular anaerobic habitats, are built from metabolic networks of micro-organisms rather than a single organism. The effect of these networks on D/H of lipids has not been explored and may complicate the interpretation of these analyses. Syntrophy represents an extreme example of metabolic interdependence. Here, we analyzed the effect of metabolic interactions on the D/H biosignatures of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) using both laboratory maintained cocultures of the methanogen Methanosarcina acetivorans and the SRB Desulfococcus multivorans in addition to environmental samples harboring uncultured syntrophic consortia of anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea (ANME) and sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria (SRB) recovered from deep-sea methane seeps. Consistent with previously reported trends, we observed a ~80‰ range in hydrogen isotope fractionation (εlipid-water) for D. multivorans grown under different carbon assimilation conditions, with more D-enriched values associated with heterotrophic growth. In contrast, for cocultures of D. multivorans with M. acetivorans, we observed a reduced range of εlipid-water values (~36‰) across substrates with shifts of up to 61‰ compared to monocultures. Sediment cores from methane seep settings in Hydrate Ridge (offshore Oregon, USA) showed similar D-enrichment in diagnostic SRB fatty acids coinciding with peaks in ANME/SRB consortia concentration suggesting that metabolic associations are connected to the observed shifts in εlipid-water values.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)