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Keywords:

  • biodiversity;
  • hot springs;
  • pyrosequencing;
  • thermoacidophiles;
  • Philippines

Abstract

The microbial diversity was investigated in sediments of six acidic to circumneutral hot springs (Temperature: 60–92 °C, pH 3.72–6.58) in the Philippines using an integrated approach that included geochemistry and 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. Both bacterial and archaeal abundances were lower in high-temperature springs than in moderate-temperature ones. Overall, the archaeal community consisted of sequence reads that exhibited a high similarity (nucleotide identity > 92%) to phyla Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, and unclassified Archaea. The bacterial community was composed of sequence reads moderately related (nucleotide identity > 90%) to 17 phyla, with Aquificae and Firmicutes being dominant. These phylogenetic groups were correlated with environmental conditions such as temperature, dissolved sulfate and calcium concentrations in spring water, and sediment properties including total nitrogen, pyrite, and elemental sulfur. Based on the phylogenetic inference, sulfur metabolisms appear to be key physiological functions in these hot springs. Sulfobacillus (within phylum Firmicutes) along with members within Sulfolobales were abundant in two high-temperature springs (> 76 °C), and they were hypothesized to play an important role in regulating the sulfur cycling under high-temperature conditions. The results of this study improve our understanding of microbial diversity and community composition in acidic to circumneutral terrestrial hot springs and their relationships with geochemical conditions.