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The phylogeny of endolithic microbes associated with marine basalts


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We examined the phylogenetic diversity of microbial communities associated with marine basalts, using over 300 publicly available 16S rDNA sequences and new sequence data from basalt enrichment cultures. Phylogenetic analysis provided support for 11 monophyletic clades originating from ocean crust (sediment, basalt and gabbro). Seven of the ocean crust clades (OCC) are bacterial, while the remaining four OCC are in the Marine Group I (MGI) Crenarchaeota. Most of the OCC were found at diverse geographic sites, suggesting that these microorganisms have cosmopolitan distributions. One OCC in the Crenarchaeota consisted of sequences derived entirely from basalts. The remaining OCC were found in both basalts and sediments. The MGI Crenarchaeota were observed in all studies where archaeal diversity was evaluated. These results demonstrate that basalts are occupied by cosmopolitan clades of microorganisms that are also found in marine sediments but are distinct from microorganisms found in other marine habitats, and that one OCC in the ubiquitous MGI Crenarchaeota clade may be an ecotype specifically adapted to basalt.