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Transformation of Organic Matter by a Microbial Community in Sediments of Lake Baikal under Experimental Thermobaric Conditions of Protocatagenesis

Pavlova, Olga N., Zemskaya, Tamara I., Lomakina, Anna V., Shubenkova, Olga V., Manakov, Andrey Y., Moskvin, Valery I., Morozov, Igor V., Bukin, Sergey V., Khlystov, Oleg M.
Geomicrobiology journal 2016 v.33 no.7 pp. 599-606
Synedra, algae, basins, biomarkers, biosphere, clones, conifers, enrichment culture, lakes, methane, microbial communities, organic matter, paleoclimatology, petroleum, phylogeny, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediments, thermophilic microorganisms, Lake Baikal
Early diagenesis of organic matter in bottom sediments of Lake Baikal is a focus of many geochemical studies, because it is one of the few sites of petroleum formation in a nonmarine environment. Although Baikal is a rift lake and considered one of the prospective fields for deep biosphere investigations, the transformation processes of organic matter by microbial communities from deep bottom sediments and likely entering of the microorganisms from deep sediments into the near-surface sediments were not previously studied in Lake Baikal. The natural microbial community from near-surface sediments of the cold methane seep Goloustnoe (Southern Baikal Basin) was incubated with methane and the diatom Synedra acus at 80°C and 49.5 atm to simulate catagenesis. The 11-month incubation yielded the enrichment culture of viable thermophilic microorganisms. Their presence in low-temperature sediment layers may be indicative of their migration through fault zones together with gas-bearing fluids. After culturing, molecular biological methods allowed for the detection of both widespread microorganisms and unique clones whose phylogenetic status is currently unknown. The sediment after the experiment showed the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, retene. Retene can be either a conifer or algal biomarker, thus, interpretation of paleoclimate data is tenuous.