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Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2007      Archaeal and Bacterial Glycerol Dialkyl Glycerol Tetraether Lipids in Hot Springs of Yellowstone National Park
Stefan Schouten, Marcel T. J. van der Meer, Ellen C. Hopmans, W. Irene C. Rijpstra, Anna-Louise Reysenbach, David M. Ward, and Jaap S. Sinninghe Damste
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2007

Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) are core membrane lipids originally thought to be produced mainly by (hyper)thermophilic archaea. Environmental screening of low-temperature environments showed, however, the abundant presence of structurally diverse GDGTs from both bacterial and archaeal sources. In this study, we examined the occurrences and distribution of GDGTs in hot spring environments in Yellowstone National Park with high temperatures (47 to 83°C) and mostly neutral to alkaline pHs. GDGTs with 0 to 4 cyclopentane moieties were dominant in all samples and are likely derived from both (hyper)thermophilic Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. GDGTs with 4 to 8 cyclopentane moieties, likely derived from the crenarchaeotal order Sulfolobales and the euryarchaeotal order Thermoplasmatales, are usually present in much lower abundance, consistent with the relatively high pH values of the hot springs. The relative abundances of cyclopentane-containing GDGTs did not correlate with in situ temperature and pH, suggesting that other environmental and possibly genetic factors play a role as well. Crenarchaeol, a biomarker thought to be specific for nonthermophilic group I Crenarchaeota, was also found in most hot springs, though in relatively low concentrations, i.e., <5% of total GDGTs. Its abundance did not correlate with temperature, as has been reported previously. Instead, the cooccurrence of relatively abundant nonisoprenoid GDGTs thought to be derived from soil bacteria suggests a predominantly allochthonous source for crenarchaeol in these hot spring environments. Finally, the distribution of bacterial branched GDGTs suggests that they may be derived from the geothermally heated soils surrounding the hot springs.

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