Resource partitioning and amino acid assimilation in a terrestrial geothermal spring

Dengxun Lai, Brian P. Hedlund, Rebecca L. Mau, Jian Yu Jiao, Junhui Li, Michaela Hayer, Paul Dijkstra, Egbert Schwartz, Wen Jun Li, Hailiang Dong, Marike Palmer, Jeremy A. Dodsworth, En Min Zhou, Bruce A. Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


High-temperature geothermal springs host simplified microbial communities; however, the activities of individual microorganisms and their roles in the carbon cycle in nature are not well understood. Here, quantitative stable isotope probing (qSIP) was used to track the assimilation of 13C-acetate and 13C-aspartate into DNA in 74 °C sediments in Gongxiaoshe Hot Spring, Tengchong, China. This revealed a community-wide preference for aspartate and a tight coupling between aspartate incorporation into DNA and the proliferation of aspartate utilizers during labeling. Both 13C incorporation into DNA and changes in the abundance of taxa during incubations indicated strong resource partitioning and a significant phylogenetic signal for aspartate incorporation. Of the active amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) identified by qSIP, most could be matched with genomes from Gongxiaoshe Hot Spring or nearby springs with an average nucleotide similarity of 99.4%. Genomes corresponding to aspartate primary utilizers were smaller, near-universally encoded polar amino acid ABC transporters, and had codon preferences indicative of faster growth rates. The most active ASVs assimilating both substrates were not abundant, suggesting an important role for the rare biosphere in the community response to organic carbon addition. The broad incorporation of aspartate into DNA over acetate by the hot spring community may reflect dynamic cycling of cell lysis products in situ or substrates delivered during monsoon rains and may reflect N limitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2112-2122
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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