Ammonia-oxidizing archaea have similar power requirements in diverse marine oxic sediments
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe ISME Journal, 2021 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-021-01041-6
Energy/power availability is regarded as one of the ultimate controlling factors of microbial abundance in the deep biosphere, where fewer cells are found in habitats of lower energy availability. A critical assumption driving the proportional relationship between total cell abundance and power availability is that the cell-specific power requirement keeps constant or varies over smaller ranges than other variables, which has yet to be validated. Here we present a quantitative framework to determine the cell-specific power requirement of the omnipresent ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in eight sediment cores with 3–4 orders of magnitude variations of organic matter flux and oxygen penetration depth. Our results show that despite the six orders of magnitude variations in the rates and power supply of nitrification and AOA abundances across these eight cores, the cell-specific power requirement of AOA from different cores and depths overlaps within the narrow range of 10−19–10−17 W cell−1, where the lower end may represent the basal power requirement of microorganisms persisting in subseafloor sediments. In individual cores, AOA also exhibit similar cell-specific power requirements, regardless of the AOA population size or sediment depth/age. Such quantitative insights establish a relationship between the power supply and the total abundance of AOA, and therefore lay a foundation for a first-order estimate of the standing stock of AOA in global marine oxic sediments.