Successive transitory distribution of Thaumarchaeota and partitioned distribution of Bathyarchaeota from the Pearl River estuary to the northern South China Sea

Zhichao Zhou, Guo Xia Zhang, Yan Bin Xu, Ji Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Thaumarchaeota and Bathyarchaeota (formerly named Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotal Group, MCG) are globally occurring archaea playing potential roles in nitrogen and carbon cycling, especially in marine benthic biogeochemical cycle. Information on their distributional and compositional patterns could provide critical clues to further delineate their physiological and biochemical characteristics. Profiles of thaumarchaeotal and the total archaeal community in the northern South China Sea surface sediments revealed a successively transitional pattern of Thaumarchaeota composition using MiSeq sequencing. Shallow-sea sediment enriched phylotypes decreased gradually along the slope from estuarine and coastal marine region to the deep-sea, while deep-sea sediment enriched phylotypes showed a trend of increasing. Proportion of Thaumarchaeota within the total archaea increased with seawater depth. Phylotypes enriched in shallow- and deep-sea sediments were affiliated to OTUs originated from similar niches, suggesting that physiological adaption not geographical distance shaped the distribution of Thaumarchaeota lineages. Quantitative PCR also depicted a successive decrease of thaumarchaeotal 16S rRNA gene abundance from the highest at shallow-sea sites E708S and E709S (2.57 × 106 and 2.73 × 106 gene copies/g of dry sediment) to the lowest at deep-sea sites E525S and E407S (1.97 × 106 and 2.14 × 106 gene copies/g of dry sediment). Both of the abundance fractions of Bathyarchaeota subgroups (including subgroups 1, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, and ungrouped Bathyarchaeota) and the total Bathyarchaeota in the total archaea showed a negative distribution to seawater depth. Partitioned distribution of Bathyarchaeota fraction in the total archaea is documented for the first time in this study, and the shallow- and deep-sea Bathyarchaeota could account for 17.8 and 0.8%, respectively, on average. Subgroups 6 and 8, enriched subgroups in shallow-sea sediments, largely explained this partitioned distribution pattern according to seawater depth. Their prevalence in shallow-sea and suboxic estuarine sediments rather than deep-sea sediments hints that their metabolic properties of carbon metabolism are adapted to carbon substrates in these environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8035-8048
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bathyarchaeota
  • Bathyarchaeota subgroup 6
  • Bathyarchaeota subgroup 8
  • Partitioned distribution
  • South China Sea
  • Successive transition
  • Thaumarchaeota


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