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Stratification of archaeal membrane lipids in the ocean and implications for adaptation and chemotaxonomy of planktonic archaea

Zhu, Chun, Wakeham, Stuart G., Elling, Felix J., Basse, Andreas, Mollenhauer, Gesine, Versteegh, Gerard J. M., Könneke, Martin, Hinrichs, Kai‐Uwe
Environmental microbiology 2016 v.18 no.12 pp. 4324-4336
Euryarchaeota, biomarkers, chemotaxonomy, ecology, glycerol, inventories, lipids, marine environment, metabolism, paleoclimatology, particulates, phylotype, plankton, sediments
Membrane lipids of marine planktonic archaea have provided unique insights into archaeal ecology and paleoceanography. However, past studies of archaeal lipids in suspended particulate matter (SPM) and sediments mainly focused on a small class of fully saturated glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) homologues identified decades ago. The apparent low structural diversity of GDGTs is in strong contrast to the high diversity of metabolism and taxonomy among planktonic archaea. Furthermore, adaptation of archaeal lipids in the deep ocean remains poorly constrained. We report the archaeal lipidome in SPM from diverse oceanic regimes. We extend the known inventory of planktonic archaeal lipids to include numerous unsaturated archaeal ether lipids (uns‐AELs). We further reveal (i) different thermal regulations and polar headgroup compositions of membrane lipids between the epipelagic (≤ 100 m) and deep (>100 m) populations of archaea, (ii) stratification of unsaturated GDGTs with varying redox conditions, and (iii) enrichment of tetra‐unsaturated archaeol and fully saturated GDGTs in epipelagic and deep oxygenated waters, respectively. Such stratified lipid patterns are consistent with the typical distribution of archaeal phylotypes in marine environments. We, thus, provide an ecological context for GDGT‐based paleoclimatology and bring about the potential use of uns‐AELs as biomarkers for planktonic Euryarchaeota.